John Terry’s Racism: Matthew Syed Insults Chelsea’s André Villas-Boas
DAY 10 of the media’s persecution of Chelsea captain John Terry over alleged spot to racial abuse aimed at QPR’S Anton Ferdinand.
Before we see Matthew Syed’s words in the Times, Ferdinand would like to speak. He says:
“I have very strong feelings on the matter, but in the interests of fairness and not wishing to prejudice what I am sure will be a very thorough inquiry by the FA, this will be my last comment on the subject until the inquiry is concluded.”
And that’s it.
As for facts, all we know is:
* Terry shouted: “Oi, Anton, did you think I called you a black c***?”
* Terry says this was an attempt to explain to the QPR defender that he had not racially abused him.
* Ferdinand has told the FA that he did not hear Terry’s alleged abuse at the time.
You can make what you will of the anomaly.
Judgement should be reserved until after the FA have concluded their investigations. Ferdinand is right. And note that Ferdinand has offered no proof that Terry racially abused him. He is has only seen what we have seen on the telly and YouTube. The FA has asked Sky to provide it with all footage from all 20 TV cameras at the game. Radical new evidence may arises from that but right now we have nothing new.
Here’s Syed in the Times. His piece is entitled:
Why the game’s tribalism is still blind to boundaries of morality
But he talks not to racial tribalism, rather of football supporters turning blind eyes to their players’ failings.
Look at how fans berate referees whenever a decision goes the other way, regardless of the probity of the judgment. Consider how a unified roar for handball goes up as soon as the ball hits the midriff of an opposition player. Think of how you can listen to a radio phone-in and invariably infer the identity of a fan as soon as he expresses an opinion. And this goes to the heart of the allegations of racism against John Terry…
A cursory glance at the forums and discussion boards shows that many fans from beyond southwest London are dubious at what they see as a lame excuse for an abhorrent act. They wonder how Terry’s credibility can remain intact when he admits to uttering the offending words, with profound and unmistakable aggression, while claiming to have used them innocently.
These forum and discussion boards have become extensions of football journalism. The view of the fan is no less valid that the view of the professional pundit. Just because some more vocal Chelsea fan believe Terry is innocent does not mean they are biased or wrong – it might simply mean they sincerely belief that he is hard done by.
André Villas-Boas, the increasingly implausible Chelsea manager, reverted to type when he came out in full support of Terry before the FA investigation had started.
Syed makes no concession that Villas-Boas might actually believe Terry.
Villas-Boas may have been acting for reasons of pragmatism (he clearly needs Terry onside in his job as Chelsea manager) rather than one-eyed partisanship, but the ramifications are just the same — and they are equally depressing.
Again, Syed overlooks the possibility of Villas-Boas being true to himself. In another race row, Kenny Dalglish says he believes Luis Suarez is innocent of calling Patrice Evra, of Manchester United, a “nigger“. Alex Ferguson stands behind Evra. Ferguson is the manager of Manchester United. Dalglish managed Liverpool. They can’t both be right – but they can both hold sincere views on the matter.
All the FA need do is stick to the facts.