After John Terry was acquitted of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand it became apparent that English football has been left at something of a crossroads.
For many, justice has not been done. Even District Judge Howard Riddle cast doubts over Terry’s claims that he was sarcastically repeating the racial slur that Ferdinand had accused him of.
Many of the football community, including Jason Euell, took to Twitter to express their surprise or even disgust that the Chelsea defender had been found not guilty.
Gary Lineker was quick to point out the similarities between Terry’s case and that of Liverpool forward Luis Suarez. Both claimed their racist comments were taken out of context, not meant to offend. And, just like the Suarez case, it was Ferdinand’s word against Terry’s that the remark was said in an abusive manner.
With that in mind you would expect the Football Association would take action against the former England skipper. But, crucially, he has been found not guilty in a court of law and the FA may feel compromised by that.
However, there has been widespread condemnation of Terry who has brought the game into disrepute. Should he receive a similar punishment to Suarez it would be far better received by football fans than the Uruguayans eight game ban.
Yet now, and despite Rio Ferdinand’s best efforts on Twitter, the issue of racism has almost taken a backseat to the revelation that ‘industrial language’ is commonplace in football.
In the fall out following the trial it is Terry’s, Ferdinand’s and Ashley Cole’s frank admission that foul and abusive language and insults about player’s mums, wives or girlfriends are part of the game, that has left people with more questions than answers.
These people have been awoken from an ignorant nativity. That is to say that ‘gamesmanship’, including the use of bad language, has been used to rile the opposition even in those halcyon days when gentlemen like Bobby Moore played the game.
But this is 2012 and football is very much a brand. The influence of star players on young children is not lost on the FA and given the Respect Campaign the FA may wish to clamp down on the use of such aggressive language.
PFA Chairman, Clarke Carlisle, has called for a ‘radical change’ in the governance of football. He believes the high level of abuse in the game needs to be cut out and points out the sanctions are in place but are not always enforced.
Given the use of bad language at all levels of the game it would seem impractical to punish bad language between players and you wonder how it could be done without the number of red cards issued soaring.
However, people once wondered how the FA would rid football of racism but until this ugly incident the Kick it Out Campaign has been extremely successful.
It now looks as if racism has brought to light a new issue, how behaviour that is unacceptable in any other walk of life goes unpunished in football.
Football may need to endure a period of ‘mayhem’ as the FA and match officials get tough on this latest taboo, to save the sports reputation from declining any further.Like what the TT have on offer? Sign up for more notifications!