It has raged on for months on and off the pitch, and once again there has been a flare up in tensions over the race row between Anton Ferdinand and John Terry.
Ferdinand has publically declared this week that he will not shake the hand of either Terry or Ashley Cole in the game at Loftus Road on Saturday.
But has what has been dubbed ‘handshakegate’ become an over inflated spectacle that has threatened to overshadow the real issues in this case?
The FA cancelled pre-match handshakes between the two sides in January’s FA Cup clash and April’s Premier League game at Stamford Bridge in order to avoid causing any prejudice to Terry’s upcoming criminal trial.
Despite Terry admitting to uttering a racist slur in his trial in July, the former England captain was found not guilty of a racially aggravated public order offence.
The verdict was seen as a disappointment amongst many black players and commentators, who thought that Terry should have been punished for the comments he admitted to, and clearly made.
Whilst Terry claimed that he had uttered his slur sarcastically in reply to Ferdinand, the fact of the matter remains that those words had the potential to cause Ferdinand to feel racially abused.
Had Terry been convicted of racially abusing Ferdinand, this argument could have altered from two footballers refusing to shake hands to the victim of a crime refusing to shake hands with his ‘attacker’.
Ferdinand’s refusal to shake hands with Terry is likely to be compounded by the resentment that justice has not, in Ferdinand’s eyes, been fully served. However with the FA preparing to hold a hearing over comments Terry made in last autumn’s West London derby, there is some chance of reconciliation.
The FA will come under renewed pressure to make sure that Terry is properly dealt with in the hearing. With much of the fairly damning evidence already in the public domain following the criminal trial, the FA will need to ensure that Terry receives the right punishment for his wrongdoings.
The spat between Ferdinand and Cole on the other hand is a little more tedious. The pair fell out following the infamous ‘choc ice’ comment retweeted by Anton’s brother, Rio, in the aftermath of Cole giving evidence at Terry’s trial.
In refusing to shake Terry’s hand until at least after the results of the FA hearing have been announced Ferdinand is exercising his right to protest against any mistreatment that he may feel that he has been subjected to.
However in failing to shake hands with Cole, Ferdinand would be acting in an unsportsman like manor by bringing minor off-field disputes onto the pitch. Should this practice be allowed to continue, it would perhaps be better for the traditional pre-match handshake to be dropped altogether.