When it comes to racism in football, are players the really guilty ones?

Football man Blatter. Moron, anti-anti-racist and anti-English.
Sepp listening to some Gangsta Rap in an effort to get down with the kids.

Like many people, I was stunned and amazed by FIFA president Sepp Blatters’ recent comments regarding racism and the fact that it can be addressed with a simple handshake. Although I certainly look forward to employing a ‘high-five officer?’ type defence the next time I’m being done for speeding.

However, whilst like most right-minded football fans I long for the day when the bumbling old bastard is finally levered from the gravy train that we are busy fuelling, I am slightly bemused by the holier-than-thou attitude that has been adopted by certain elements within the English game in recent days.

Don’t get me wrong, I totally support the stance being taken by some of the players and officials who are speaking out against Blatter but the question nagging at me is why were those same voices so silent on the subject of John Terry?

After all, everyone knows Sepp is a bit of a fool and by his words has undoubtedly set back any notion that FIFA is seriously interested in the issue of racism. But the issue of Terry is in many ways far more serious because as I wrote last week, there is a great deal more at stake.

Since the dark days of the 80’s no footballing nation has been as vocal in its condemnation of racism within the game than England. By our actions we have earned the right to stand firm and just on the moral high-ground and that has given us the right to speak out against racism in nations from Spain to Russia and in not one case have they been able to throw anything back at us.

Yet now they can.

Forget the notion of innocent until proven guilty, by allowing an alleged racist to lead the national side against Sweden the FA have undermined both the severity of the problem and our stance on racism with the result that our integrity has been damaged. And it could get even worse because we now face the very real possibility of the current England captain being a convicted racist. That would remove at a stroke our right to preach to anybody about racism ever again. And without us on that moral high-ground, it’s a bleak and above all empty place.

Did no one in the hallowed halls of the Football Association consider that? Was a meaningless friendly really worth what they have done?

But equally, why didn’t those players who are now being so vocal about Blatter speak out then? They’re not stupid, they must have realised the possible implications involved with his selection.

The only answer of course is that they were afraid. No one likes a grass do they especially when the guy involved is one of your own. That’s not a problem they have with Sepp of course, because everyone hates him right?

Yet Anton Ferdinand is also one of their own and he deserves better from his peers as does every black player from Clyde Best and Paul Canonville through to the 8 year old on Hackney Marshes and they didn’t get it when they needed it the most. That’s beyond shameful.

Racism continues to be one of the great evils of the modern game and has to be confronted at all levels and at every opportunity. But to quote the Irish politician and orator Edmund Burke, ‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing’.

That says an awful lot about what has (and has not) been going on in recent weeks.

Are The Twitterati Footballs True Judge and Jury? Hell Yeah!

We're watching you bastards!

Like many people, I am a big fan of social networking and spend a great deal of time using both Facebook and Twitter to promote my books, carry out research and network with other writers. Unfortunately, I also spend a great deal more time talking rubbish with people I barely know, swapping jokes and looking at stupid video’s which is not good when I have deadlines to beat!

Surprisingly, one thing I don’t use social networking for is to follow football.  The main reasons being that I don’t really care too much what is happening at any other club than Watford and certainly have little or no interest in the day to day trivia of players lives or for that matter, their opinions. More importantly, I find if far too easy to get sucked into arguments and being the type of person who has to have the last word, can find myself involved in pointless debates for days!

The whole idea of social networking online is actually quite ridiculous and like many things to do with the internet, is actually designed to waste time and avoid facing up to the realities of life. However, whatever you use it for or whatever you think of it, social networking does have real power. And central to that is the ability to spread or even occasionally, create news. In that sense, Twitter is pretty much unrivalled.

I mention this here because I have been busily writing something this morning about the John Terry saga which has given me a great deal of food for thought.

Now I don’t care much for John Terry or racists and if he is found guilty, he deserves whatever comes his way. He certainly shouldn’t be anywhere near the England team at the moment and if he were a true England captain, he would have made himself unavailable until such time as they investigations into his case had been concluded. The fact he hasn’t says enough about him to me to suggest he isn’t even worthy of the armband anyway. It doesn’t say much for his team mates either but that’s another debate entirely.

However, what has struck me as equally important is the fact that Terry only really fell into shit creek once the Twitterati got involved and that has massive implications for the game as a whole. For what we are witnessing here is trial by fan. And I for one, love this idea.

Let’s face it, we have all seen things happen in games which players have got away with simply because the referee missed them. And even though

A cheating bastard at work.

they will have been picked up by the TV cameras and shown later on, we all know that thanks to the stupid rules relating to retrospective punishment it is extremely unlikely that anything will ever be done. But equally, like most supporters I am sick to death of the diving and the cheating that is ruining the game I love and if the authorities, the clubs or the players union won’t do anything to stop it even though they know it is wrong, then maybe pressure from the fans will finally force them into action.

Just as importantly, if through the use of social networking fans are finally able to interact more directly with players, maybe they won’t be so quick to feign injury if they know that they are going to have to justify their behaviour to the people who pay their wages. After all, embarrassment is the biggest deterrent known to man!

There will of course be those who think this is the very worst of developments but in all honesty, I don’t care. For too long now we fans have been forced to sit back and put up with the demise of fair play and if through social networking we finally have the chance to bring about a return to sportsmanship within football, that can only be a good thing for the game.

John Terry: Captain or Cock?

Bobby Moore, A real England captain.

Let me throw some names at you: Bobby Moore, Bryan Robson, Billy Wright, David Beckham, Terry Butcher, Stuart Pearce and John Terry. Now tell me, which one is the odd one out?

The answer, in case you were wondering, is John Terry and the reason should be obvious. Don’t get me wrong, there is no denying his qualities as a player but let’s face it, as a captain of the England national side, a post which carries with it all kinds of responsibilities, he’s a non-starter. Because unlike every other name on that list, Terry is devoid of the one thing that marks out a true England captain; he has no class.

And that’s what I want from my national captain. I want to know that not only is he a great player and an inspirational leader, but that he stands tall as an example of the values the vast majority of England uphold. Values such as honesty, integrity and fair play.

Can anyone honestly say that Terry provides that example? I can’t. Instead I look at him and see everything that is wrong with this country. The demise of shame, the growing acceptance of sleaze as an acceptable personality trait and above all, a total and utter failure to accept responsibility for your own actions. Do we really want someone like that wearing the captains armband? More importantly, do we really want the rest of the world looking at him and thinking that we are proud of him or approve of his behaviour?

If you need any further proof that Terry can’t hold a candle to any of his predecessors, you actually need look no further than the fact that this is still an issue at all!

For if he were genuinely a true England captain, he would have realised that his presence would not have been in anyone’s interests and made himself unavailable until the investigations into his behaviour have been concluded.

But he hasn’t. Instead he has clung on like some desperate chav seemingly unable to comprehend that he has done anything wrong.

John Terry doing what he does best..... not being a gentleman

And that says it all. No class you see.