Innocent Until Proven Guilty vs. No Smoke Without Fire – A Problem With Image

In a spot of trouble ... again (Source: Google Images)

What a week for scandal.  The Suarez case rumbles on, but at least a judgement has been made.  We now have the even trickier situation of John Terry.

It’s even trickier because the Evra/Suarez scenario was worked out by the football authorities.  That’s fairly straightforward.  The Terry scenario, however, has legal implications as well as those for the FA to manage.

A man is innocent until proven guilty.  This is a noble concept and one that I feel should be rightly upheld to ensure everyone has a fair chance to maintain their dignity until due process has taken place.

Yet in our day with information being so prevalent it is so easy for ‘evidence’ being spouted from one blog to another’s twitter account to someone else’s email account and then somebody’s text before ending up in a person’s article/report.  When you are in the public domain it appears as though all of you business is conducted for the world to see.  And when you’re in a position that requires you to be an ambassador and role model for your sport that comes with certain responsibilities.

He takes pride in the being captain for his country and the stand he has made on anti-racism, but is that under threat with the charge? (Source: Google Images)

So we have the England captain who was embroiled in controversy over off-field activities that led to his captaincy being removed.  Now after an investigation the Crown Prosecution Services have deemed to have sufficient evidence to formally charge him with an offence that again besmirches the position he holds.

As with the Suarez case, what needs to be clear is that the charge is not stating that Terry is a racist.  That is not the issue.  However, being found guilty puts a significant dent in his effort to present himself as someone who fights to kick racism out of football.  For the present, however, there is the fact that he has been charged.

Those in the game will argue that being charged doesn’t mean anything because of the ‘innocent until proven guilty’ ethos.  Players continue to play on even having been charged other misdemeanours.  In fact some may remember back when Jonathan Woodgate and Lee Bowyer were involved in a case and during that time especially for Bowyer their form was relatively unaffected.  Chelsea have stood by their captain and as far as they are concerned he will continue to have their backing and continue to captain their side and be selected.

The FA released a statement to say they have nothing to say, but it is their actions that will speak louder than any non-speaking press statement

The FA have remained quiet on the situation, though, especially as to how this charge has a bearing on Terry’s role as captain and player for England.  Having made a strong stance in the Suarez issue, there is a question as to whether or not they will take action to remove any hint of controversy from their upcoming friendly.

From the perspective of a sponsor, what would you do?  Especially if part of your business is about having the image of a company that has good clean role models for their customers to admire.  There’s a good argument that he paid his dues for his last controversy which is why he got the captaincy back.  Indeed everyone deserves a chance for redemption.  Yet in the immediate term there remains the question of what this kind of news and coverage does for the image of a country that claims to take racism in all its forms as a serious issue especially with such a strong statement being made recently.

I really do commend Terry for his stand to defend himself and seek to clear his name and prove his innocence. It is an interesting time to be the captain of the England football team.




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