Two contrasting pieces of news have popped up today both involving court cases, the CPS and positions of responsibility. Both today resulting in the main characters no longer holding those positions. Yet there the similarities end.
The first one to touch on briefly is one that I have the least interest in primarily because it has to do with politicians whom I know have the ability to make the most out of any situation whatever the incident. Chris Huhne, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, resigned from his post. He did this following the Crown Prosecution Service charging him with perverting the course of justice. Has something to do with a speeding ticket. Took place almost ten years ago. He’s been surrounded with controversy since the allegations were investigated, but now with the case going to court he’s resigned. Note in the video piece seen in linked article how he’s doing this to deflect attention from the position he holds. Sure, he could have done that from the start of the allegations, but it is the right time to step down. Whether he did so voluntarily or was encouraged by other forces is irrelevant largely. He has chosen this course of action and as far as his department is concerned at the cabinet and the government he is not an issue anymore. (Yeah I know media pundits might bring it up, but for the time being, there’s nothing to fuss over, even if he’s found guilty.)
Contrast that if you will with the decision over everyone’s favourite England football captain, John Terry. Having been charged with things concerning racially abusive comments, he was scheduled this week to start court proceedings. However those have been adjourned until July – after the European Championships in which he was meant to be leading the team. Previously the FA had held a stance that said that until a decision had been reached by the courts there was nothing for them to do. It was a case that the guy was innocent until proven guilty. This worked on the basis that the case would be heard and sorted now, and decisions could be made round about now determined by whether he was found guilty or not.
Yet the adjournment for some reason has set the cat among the pigeons and the FA has now removed the captaincy from the player. Naturally some people are asking questions as to what has happened in the last 24 hours to make the FA reach this decision. What these people may not realise is how media sensitive the FA can be. The thought of taking Terry to the tournament as captain under suspicion of racial abuse would not do well for the stance they wish to take on racism. Having implicitly criticised other countries and footballing organisations for their lax approach to racial issues, it would be hypocritical to then allow the national team to be led by a guy with such an allegation hanging over him – an allegation that the CPS has deemed suitable to take him to court over.
Notice in all this, however, John Terry has never once seen it fit to step down from his post. Despite the heaps of media attention, despite the obvious football gossip that carries on among players about the man (after all, why did they cancel the Chelsea-QPR handshake?), despite the negative publicity it has received to date and would have been likely to have happened up to the major international tournament, in the face of all this, there was nothing in him to consider stepping down. Are those great leadership qualities?
Sure you want to clear your name, that’s admirable. You are not a racist and some of your best friends are non-whites, well that’s good for you. Yet when it comes to the integrity of the position you hold, a position that surely must have some integrity attached to it after all it’s not just representing your country – it’s leading the representatives of your country – nothing about the charges you face allows you to stop for a moment and consider perhaps for the sake of the role and the country I wish to represent, maybe I need to deflect attention from my issues so that the focus can be completely on the football.
To me, that says a lot about Terry. Not positive things either.
It of course does not stop with Terry. The CPS charged Terry in December. What that meant was that the judicial system saw it fit to try Terry on the allegations made. They had to have gathered a worthy case to be able to bring the charges. It was not a case of just saying to themselves it was about time they had a court case with the England football captain. (Note the article where the crown prosecutor states that she is satisfied that there was enough to get a conviction.) The seriousness of that in itself should have told the FA that for the sake of clarity and football focus that then was the time to remove the captaincy from Terry.
This was after all the same time that the FA was receiving plaudits for their stance on racism with the Suarez result. Someone could almost be moved to consider if there wasn’t a case of double standards – but of course such an officious body would never conduct such an act.
What it means now though is that the organisation have egg on their face. The legitimate concern still remains what really has changed in the last 24 hours. The answer is nothing. Terry has still been charged, but his case has not been heard. He is still innocent as it has not been proven otherwise at this time. The FA are now making a clumsy effort to quell an issue that in the long term now establishes a precedent for them and a precedent that cannot stay just with the England captain.
The level of seriousness can be reflected in the typical procedure that some other employers might have taken in this case. If there was sufficient evidence to suggest that an employee had racially abused someone else, usually pending an investigation, that employee would be suspended. There would be no waiting to see if there an advantageous timing for the hearing, there would be issued for the sake of the integrity of the organisation’s commitment to valuing people an immediate suspension. If following that investigation and subsequent hearing the employee is deemed to have been innocent of the charges presented, due reparations can be made. That is following the due procedure due to the serious nature of the charges.
The FA have not followed that course and it makes them look rather silly in the process. Also consider how in the case of the employer and the employee in the light of such a charge requiring such an investigation the employee is suspended from working for the company. Huhne’s resignation doesn’t allow him to be a member of the cabinet for special occasions. So the question is why is Terry eligible to play for his country at all? What’s the difference between him playing as captain and getting the attention and him being in the squad as a first team-starter and getting the attention? Either way he’s getting the attention. Either way it still looks like cowardice and hypocrisy on the part of the FA.
The act to remove his captaincy – one made by the FA and not the coach – surely undermines both the coach’s role in team selection and the player’s position in the squad. Yes, we can all be professional about these things, which can often be another way of saying we’ll just slate the guy behind his back and make pretensions in public that we’re OK with everything.
Who would have thought it? An occasion where a footballer and his organisation comes out looking worse than a politician and the government!