By Wayne Veysey | Chief Correspondent
Chelsea have maintained a watchful silence during the past year. They have bided their time, let events unfold from the sidelines and allowed the authorities to complete their investigations.
Rightly so. Now, for the good of the game, wider society and the club itself, it is time to act. And act in a manner which unequivocally demonstrates that its responsibilities extend beyond protecting its place among the elite of the European game.
John Terry should be stripped of the Chelsea captaincy. Immediately. The FA disciplinary panel concluded that he is “not a racist” but the findings published today are so damaging that a four-match ban and £220,000 fine should be regarded by his employers as grossly insufficient.
As for Ashley Cole, his latest episode of self-harming must be dealt with equally rigorously. The FA are likely to punish his mindless reaction to the panel’s 63-page dossier with a heavy fine but Chelsea should go further and throw the book at the defender who chose the wrong time and forum to go on the attack.
How else will these two serial offenders learn? Both are authors of their own downfall. Too many scrapes, too many embarrassments.
Terry and Cole embody much of the ego and arrogance that alienates many people from football, relying for too long on the calibre of their on-field performances to squash the baggage that surrounds them.
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Time and again, they have shamed their club. Time and again, they have been forgiven.
But it is no longer enough to allow their football to do the talking. The pair’s misbehaviour has spoken too loudly for the storm clouds to disperse this time.
Of course, Cole’s latest misdemeanour does not belong in the same category of seriousness as Terry’s. But by throwing a can of petrol on the flames of the fall-out from the FA report after being accused of “inconsistencies” in his evidence, he has once again demonstrated an alarming lack of self-awareness. Pleading stupidity should not be enough to get him off the hook.
Westminster Magistrates Court might have found Terry not guilty of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand but the FA disciplinary commission explained in no uncertain terms why their verdict conflicted with the criminal one.
Terry’s defence against the allegations was “implausible, improbable and contrived”, the panel, chaired by Craig Moore QC explained in its written reasons.
With those three damning words, the minds of Chelsea officials unsure how to deal with their captain should have been made up.
‘JT’ is a divisive figure outside of Stamford Bridge, where his mighty powerbase goes largely unchecked, as previous managers who have not lived up to his views on how a football team should be run will attest.
But this has nothing to do with club loyalties or the tribalism on which football feeds.
The FA panel concluded that Terry used the words ****** black **** to Ferdinand as an insult and found his defencce to be untrue.
Terry's reputation has been sorely tainted by this affair. Now it is time for Chelsea to make a stand and ensure their reputation does not also lay in tatters.
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