Whatever possessed the fatuous FA suddenly and belatedly to charge John Terry with “making a racist remark” to Anton Ferdinand hot on the heels of Terry being acquitted by the Westminster magistrate. Granted, the case should beyond any logical doubt have gone to the FA in the first place. It didn’t only because an officious, meddling off duty copper, supposedly a lip reader who wasn’t even at the QPR v Chelsea game, saw the match on his television set and emitted a complaint. Which is seems had to be automatically if officiously followed up by the Metropolitan Police.
So we had the drawn out farrago of the magistrate’s court, with overpaid and over loquacious QCs opposing each other across the court. At the end of which the magistrates frankly and honestly admitted that there was no clear case to answer. Which was where the FA should have left it. Even if they now claim to prove the charge, and, of course, the burden of proof is less stringent than in any court, there seems every chance that Terry would appeal thus involving the FA in utterly needless expense. Couldn’t David Bernstein have knocked this on the head? And does anybody but himself give a damn whether he manages to hold his place after he turns 70?
This is not to defend Terry who, as we all know, is something of a recidivist when it comes to crass behaviour, on or off the field. But in this country so far as I know a man remains innocent until he’s proved guilty. Which is why Fabio Capello, with a great deal to say since he was appointed monoglot manager of Russia (at least, as he concedes, he doesn’t even have to pretend to speak Russian) has a valid point when he says the England captaincy should never have been taken away from Terry. This almost immediately after the racism charges were laid but the trial lay far in the future. Yet Bernstein approved this palpably unjust decision.
Capello insisted that his contract (which of course should have been terminated immediately after the disastrous 2010 World Cup) clearly stipulated that he himself should choose the captain. So last February he walked out. Telling us now, from his base in fantasyland, “I achieved everything I wanted to achieve with England.” Which suggests he must have set his sights pretty low.
The refusal of our Olympic team’s Welsh contingent, Ryan Giggs, Craig Bellamy, Joe Allen and Neil Taylor, to sing the National Anthem surprised rather than angered me. Personally I don’t see why any player should sing his national anthem and if you look along the lines before an international game, you can see that quite a few of them don’t. But to make it, as these Welshmen did, a deliberate act of surly defiance is somewhat baffling. You might expect it of Scots players, as indeed we should, with a couple of them in the British women’s team; after all, there’s a strong movement in Scotland for separation.
But there is none in Wales that I have been aware of. Even if it has to be admitted that Land Of My Fathers, which Welsh fans sing so lustily before games, is an infinitely finer anthem than God Save The Queen with its melancholy music and clumsy words. Though I don’t think Giggs and co. were mute on aesthetic grounds.
Beckhamitis lives, alas. Silly Tessa (There is nothing like a dame) Jowell has gushed, “Oh, just so much gorgeousness in one human being.” Paul McCartney has deplored Beckham’s Olympic exclusion, as has a leading Swedish newspaper. All credit to Stuart Pearce for having the courage to exclude a player who, for all his cheap cameo caps, has no valid claim on American form to a place in his squad.
Meanwhile, hands off Gareth Bale, who clearly wanted an Olympic place. Which rebuke includes the ineffable Sepp Blatter.