John Terry: How Sarah Palin got it right

Musa Okwonga
terry 300x225 John Terry: How Sarah Palin got it right

John Terry has been stripped of the captaincy

It’s been a notable week for the loss of titles: first Fred Goodwin, formerly a knight of the realm, and now John Terry, formerly captain of England. The news has only just broken, but it seems as though the attention around his July 9 trial – for the alleged racial abuse of QPR defender Anton Ferdinand – proved too much of a distraction for the FA leading into this summer’s European Championships.

Terry will most likely feel deeply aggrieved. He may well see this move by the FA as a betrayal, and may question why he was given the responsibility of leading his team in the first place. This is the second time that he has lost the England captaincy: the first time was two years ago, almost to the day, when allegations about his private life saw Fabio Capello hand the armband to Rio Ferdinand. Should he return to the role in autumn, he might rightly fear that his authority has been terminally undermined.

Ironically enough, Terry’s success in securing a trial date after the tournament may have forced the FA’s hand. His removal as captain does not remotely signify his guilt of the charges brought against him, but I think it signals a concession to the cacophony whipped up by Twitter, radio and countless media commentators. For the FA to have made such a difficult decision, they would have done so in the perceived best interests of the England team as a whole. In doing so, however, the FA have gone against the publicly-stated wishes of Fabio Capello to retain him in the role. This looks like a terrible mess.

But maybe the FA’s decision is not such a mess after all. The July 9 trial date ensured that the remaining few months of the season, as well as the entire Euro 2012 tournament, effectively became “the trial of John Terry”. I don’t doubt for one moment that he would have emerged with his playing reputation intact, perhaps even enhanced. Indeed, John Terry and his supporters can point to the fact that, whenever Terry is subjected to intense media scrutiny, he raises his level of performance, not only producing masterful displays in defence but also contributing the odd crucial goal here and there.

Sarah Palin, of all people, put her finger on a similar issue a few years ago, during a September 2008 speech in which she was critical of Barack Obama’s run for the White House. “The American presidency”, she somewhat harshly told her adoring audience, “is not a journey in personal discovery.” Unfortunately for John Terry, the FA seem to have agreed with Palin: and concluded that the England captaincy is not a personal test of strength, in which Terry can prove himself yet again impervious in the face of public anger. It is a job whose holder should not overshadow his team’s campaign: and that’s probably why, quite wearily, they have wielded the axe.

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  • WorthSaying

    What nobbled Terry was the trial date being set a long way off. He’d already been charged when he captained England against Sweden. One of the journalists on the DM called this ‘Strictly Come Racism’, something happens every week and we all get a chance to vote by Twitter and the message boards. There is a nasty edge to this, there is a card and an agenda. I don’t think Terry will be the last to fall foul of it. 

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