It’s not often you hear something profound out Craig Bellamy’s mouth. After all, he’s the man with a rap sheet of off-field misdemeanors as long as Adebayor’s extensive African member. The most infamous of these misdemeanors was taking to his teammate, the typically introverted Norwegian John Arne Riise, with a golf club after he refused to sing karaoke.
But some time back, when asked for his opinion of the John-Terry-sleeps-with-teammate’s-girlfriend-while-his-wife-is-home-with-the-kids Affair, the Cardiff-born sage spouted some pungent words regarding the character of the England skipper. They were the sort of words that hit you hard but then lie dormant until the next scandal rears its ugly head, which in the case of John Terry, is about every 5 minutes. During the post-match interview Bellamy seethed, “I know what JT’s like and nothing surprises me about him”.
In the right context this could have been quite the compliment but given the fact that Wayne Bridge, the player whose girlfriend jumped into bed with Terry, was a teammate of Bellamy at the time, it was anything but. Bellamy was quick to extinguish any flames and attempted to salvage any friendship he had with Terry by going on to say what a great player and captain he was but the damage had been done.
Now let’s be clear, if the Welsh madman (aren’t they all) that is Craig Bellamy is calling your character into question, alarm bells should be shrieking louder than a cheating Italian striker taking a dive inside the box.
But when Bellamy made the “nothing surprises me” comment, I wonder if that also included vile, mindless, let’s-go-lynching type racist slurs that Terry appeared to come out with on Sunday following a clash with QPR’s Anton Ferdinand. Now I’ll be the first to say that I’m no lip reader. But from the footage caught by the cameras, it seem relatively decisive that Terry turns toward Ferdinand, who is some ways away, and calls him a “f****** black c**t”. And before you ask, no, you can’t buy a vowel.
This is not the first time that these allegations have been leveled at the captain of the England Football team including one involving his England playing partner, Ledley King, which resulted in an uncharacteristic flair-up from the usually mild-mannered King following a verbal exchange between the two players. Terry was sent off in circumstances as clouded in mystery as the terrorist history of Mama Zidane considering the reaction of the players on both sides (Chimbonda and Zakora went crazy while Drogba did nothing to protect his teammate) it left one thinking JT just might have put a match to a cross or two in his time. I mean, put a cross or two in during a match in his time.
Despite the game making concerted efforts, at least on the surface, to stamp out racism, it appears that the footballing powers-that-be still have a lot of work on their hands. Pausing before key fixtures for the players to stand behind an anti–racism banner is annoyingly anticlimactic but instances such as the recent one with Terry and Ferdinand show they are necessary.
And it is not just the players and fans prone to letting fly with racial slurs. Following a champions league clash at Stamford Bridge, Samuel Eto’o, who was playing for Inter at the time, accused a Chelsea official of calling him a ‘monkey’. While this type of remark is not unheard of in Serie A and La Liga, the FA should ensure they lead the way in world football to stamp out any such comments. There is simply no place for racism in football. No place at all. For the record Eto’o now chases the coconut for the Russian club, Anzhi Makhachkala, earning a reported £200,000 and a box of bananas per week.
Terry’s excuse during this latest scandal is that he was clarifying the fact that he didn’t say such a thing. In other words he claims he said, “I never called you a f****** black c***”, which is one of the lamest excuses I’ve ever heard. For the captain of a team to use those words on the pitch under any circumstances makes about as much sense as the Home Office granting a work permit to Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez, when you know he’d happily work for half the pay without one.
Firstly, we know he lied to his wife during his well-publicized affairs. From a footballing point, back when Schteve McClaren was managing England and his job was under pressure, Terry remarked, “we’ve underperformed a little bit in the last few games but as a group we are fully behind the manager. It’s not nice what we are hearing but he is the right man for the job 100 per cent”. We all know what a whopper that turned out to be as it was clear that McClaren had completely lost the dressing room a long time before this statement and two games later he was told to take his umbrella and go home.
If you consult the Liar’s Guidebook it states, “Lying people tend to repeat the question in the answer like, “No, I did not have sexual relations with that woman”, instead of simply saying, “no I didn’t.” There’s little doubt in my mind that JT’s used that Clinton classic verbatim when speaking to his wife Toni but it also begs the question why, when confronted by Ferdinand on field Terry didn’t stick to something along the lines of, “I never said that”, instead of repeating the unbelievably offensive phrase again.
Terry’s later statement about the incident was to say, “I would never say such a thing and I’m saddened that people would think so. It was clear it was all a misunderstanding at the time. After the result today, I am saddened to be dealing with these wrongful allegations.” The only thing clear from all this is that poor JT is sad and that his statements are as drab and well-rehearsed as a German’s boring yet efficient style of play.
Here’s an idea JT. Why not just come out and set the record straight. You knew the cameras were on you, explain yourself and save yourself some time and a bucketload of sadness. An honest explanation of what went down and we can all forget this quicker than you can say ‘all Argentinians are dirty, cheating b*stards.’
One theory doing the rounds is that Terry actually said, “I never called you a f****** black c***, you f****** black c***”, which for me is the most likely scenario and the one I’m sticking with.
At any rate, there is no room for any prejudice in football. A strong stance should be taken in this matter and we should all be careful not to perpetuate any stereotypes based on ethnicity, race or nationality. It should be an easy task if we all stick to it but for the FA and FIFA, their enforcement of these rules remains as elusive as a sober Irishman.