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The John Terry Furore: I Just Don’t Get It

Posted on Monday February 8th 2010 at 2:04pm
by Richard Smith

This article was written by a Simply Syndicated fan, Shane aka “token bg” on our forums.

While you may regard this as hyperbolic it is said by some that the most high pressured job in England, with the obvious exception of Prime Minister, is the manager of the England soccer team. Given recent news headlines it seems we can add the position of England soccer captain to the list. For those who aren’t aware, here is the background to what I am referring.

Later this summer, England will compete in The World Cup. As always, England are seen as one of the competition’s potential winners. For a change, this belief is not unfounded. England’s performances over the past two years have been generally impressive and they can be rightly considered amongst seven or eight countries with a realistic chance of victory come early July.

But there’s a potential spanner in the works. Last Friday (29th January) it was revealed that the England captain had cheated on his wife with the ex-girlfriend of Wayne Bridge. Bridge used to be a team-mate of Terry’s at club level and is a current colleague of his in the England team. This has caused a media furore, with many in the media, as well as England fans branding Terry a disgrace and demanding that he have the captaincy of England taken away from him. The reasoning for this is that as captain of England, Terry is seen as an ambassador for the game of soccer and a role model for young children. As he has fallen short of these duties he must be punished.

And it is this view that I take umbrage with. While ideally any sportsman should behave responsibly & morally, (particularly high-profile ones such as Terry) at what point did the England captaincy come with the caveat of being of strong moral fibre. Was Terry given the position on these qualities? Or was he appointed because he was, and in my mind still is, the best leader of men in the England team at present. To put it in perspective for those across The Atlantic, the current spotlight that Terry is under is not too dissimilar from what the basketball player Kobe Bryant experienced after is was revealed he had been unfaithful to his wife, and was subsequently accused of rape (a charge that was eventually dropped).

The fact is that for the past 18 months, Terry has made some questionable choices away from the pitch. He was caught parking his car in a disabled parking space, he was also paid a large sum of money to give two men a tour of Chelsea’s stadium, Stamford Bridge (Chelsea is Terry’s respective club, of which he is also captain) without permission, and upon marriage to his childhood sweetheart, Toni, he confessed previous infidelities and said that his cheating days were over. These are all repugnant acts, so then why on earth was his position as captain not called into question until now?

I believe the answer to this lies in the other man in this affair, Wayne Bridge. Terry and Bridge had been good friends for a number of years until this story broke and are expected to be in England’s upcoming World Cup squad. What Terry has done has break one of the unofficial rules of men – you don’t ever get involved with your friend’s spouse, even if they are no longer together. I think the primary outrage is to do with Terry ‘defecating on his own doorstep’, so to speak. Had the woman in question been a perma-tanned, dumb blonde with hair extensions, it still would have been news, but the demand for Terry to be stripped of his captain’s responsibilities would be close to naught.

Notice I used the word ‘responsibilities’. What responsibilities? Here is where the debate seems to lie. I only see Terry as responsible for being his team’s on-pitch leader and nothing more. Yet on the 24 hour-rolling news channels, vox-pops in the street, and internet message boards, the general consensus is that Terry cannot be seen as a guardian of the English game and the captaincy must be given to someone who can. Really now?? Should it? Ok, let’s play a little game. These fans have also proposed alternatives to John Terry as England captain. Let’s check their credentials:

Frank Lampard – Last year, he split from his fiancee, Elen Rives. This is in part due to Lampard’s own reported infidelities.

Ashley Cole – Despised by many England fans for perceived greed, and also in the press in 2007 for cheating on his wife.

Wayne Rooney – Many people’s favoured choice. Regarded by some (unfairly) for being a foul-mouthed chav. Was also a hot news topic in 2004 for…, well do you sense a pattern emerging here?

Steven Gerrard – Wonderful player, and has been a inspirational captain for his club. Also caught on camera assaulting a DJ in a nightclub for not playing a song he wanted to hear.

David Beckham – One of the most nonsensical suggestions, due to the fact that Beckham isn’t assured of a place in the England squad, let alone the starting eleven. And lest we forget that even Saint David has reputedly been unfaithful to his wife.

Well, a glowing shortlist, I think we can all agree. But the character of the aforementioned men is beside the point. High-profile sportsmen and women are often feted, pampered and lionised in their early twenties, some even earlier than that. It staggers me that people are surprised that their behavior differs from those who aren’t in such a privileged position. Why on earth should we apply higher standards to them then we do the average person on the street? Indeed, why should we even apply the same ones? In fact, their standing is alike to that of pop stars and actors, yet we don’t seem to apply the same moral codes to them. When Christian Bale unleashed that infamous rant of the set of Terminator:Salvation, he was criticised by many – me included – but I don’t remember many saying he should be fired, or any other kind of punitive measure.

The stupidity of the press has only been exacerbated by their opinion that Terry should still play for England, just not as captain. What absolute guff. If his team-mates have a problem with him as captain, how does that change because he no longer adorns the skipper’s armband? If they had a personal issue with Terry’s actions – which, reputedly they don’t – then surely his very presence in the team would cause awkwardness. This is due to the absurd British notion that equates the England captaincy to leading a troop out into battle. Well guess what? Soccer isn’t war. It’s just a game, yes our national game, but a game nonetheless. To those who also believe that Terry is a pathetic excuse for a man who should no longer be England captain, ask yourself this question, and think very carefully before you answer – If John Terry was to make a goal-saving tackle or score a goal that led to England winning the World Cup, or even reaching the final (not a scenario beyond the realms of probability) would you have a serious problem with that? The answer to this is underscored that in the midst of the judgements passed at no point has Terry’s competence as a soccer player been called into question, illustrated by his winning goal for Chelsea this past weekend.

This whole palaver comes down to one simple question – does having John Terry as England captain have a detrimental effect on the England team? If so, then Terry should relinquish the captain’s armband, otherwise this is a non-issue. Terry’s behavior has been reprehensible, and deserves whatever consequences this has for his marriage. But please people, stop the hand-wringing and pontification. To look to John Terry or any soccer player as a positive moral example makes as much as sense of looking to Michael Bay movies for the meaning of life.

Shane

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