The artist formerly known as England's Brave John Terry. Again.
Innocent or guilty, right or wrong - the time has come for the Chelsea captain to leave the Three Lions, and the circus surrounding them, behind. Permanently.
An era passed
It's difficult to argue - however much I disagree - with the Football Association's decision to relieve Terry of the England captaincy in wake of the racist abuse trial he faces in July. The potential backlash, particularly in the lead-up to and at this summer's European Championships, far outweighs any positives that would have come from our captain retaining the armband through Euro 2012.
He denies the allegations, says he feels "disgusted" and, in which case, he was probably entitled to want to keep that little piece of elasticated cloth around his left biceps. But the FA had too much to lose. The final of Euro 2008 was watched on television by around 330 million people in 231 different countries. Each game had an average audience of 155 million. This year's event will be even bigger. The FA's responsibility is for the image of the English game, not the feelings of a man who should probably never have been given a second bite at the captaincy anyway.
Of course I find the final sentence of Daniel Taylor's opinion piece for the Guardian a tad absurd. However, the general sentiment makes proper sense. The idea of having Terry found guilty of the charges against him just days after his face was plastered on any number of advertising boards if England were to magically win Euro is enough reason for those wretched men in the suits to at least temporarily demote him.
These FA suits also make sure to state that the "decision in no way infers any suggestion of guilt in relation to the charge made against" Terry. That's great and all, provided the general public actually reads the official statement rather than just drawing conclusions from a headline. But I digress. So, despite my reservations about it as a Chelsea fan and supporter of Terry (until proven otherwise), I can say that I see where the FA is coming from and can agree somewhat.
What I find myself vehemently disagreeing with - other than, of course, the idea of innocent until proven guilty - is the timing of the decision. Why chose to act now rather than when the charges were brought against Terry? Those charges, as you may recall, were brought forth more than three months ago. I find this particularly bemusing when the majority of the footballing community (fans, pundits, et al.) always knew that a trial was never going to take place in the immediate. Not during the season, not during Euro. July was always a likely date. So why not act swiftly in a statement that speaks to the strength of their position?
Instead, the FA waits until the pot begins to boil over in the court of public opinion - with drones like Jason Roberts tweeting nonsense about a situation they don't/never will understand - to make a statement that no longer carries strength but wreaks of the exact opposite. Manipulated by the media? Perhaps not, but it sure seems as if those with an audience managed to have an influence.
The undermining of England manager Fabio Capello, who was not a part of this decision, only solidifies those like me who are of the opinion that the FA is, well, a joke.
That is why I call on Terry to remove his name from consideration for England duty. Now and for the rest of his career as a football player.
This is the man that has twice been stripped of the country's highest footballing honor because of incidents unrelated to the beautiful game, both of which remain unresolved. The first, an alleged affair with a woman former teammate Wayne Bridge used to date, was a story that grew a life of its own in large part through the British tabloid monster. And now the latest - a potential bombshell that, at this moment, isn't one.
Terry could be innocent. Terry could be guilty. I'm not one to judge either way at the moment. However, what I can judge is the effect playing for England going forward could have on the man. Hell, look at the scrutiny he's faced since becoming captain in August 2006. I see no reason for Terry to continue hurling himself into the England spotlight when the amount of vitriol he faces grows by the millisecond. I half-reckon he may have already stepped down had he not believed that by doing so would be viewed as an admission of guilt in the public conscience.
Walk away, John. Remove yourself from the stage. Focus on your club career and your family. Let the media hounds focus on someone else at Euro 2012 and beyond.