Anton Ferdinand had every right to snub John Terry's handshake, but maybe by the next meeting -- Jan. 1 -- it'll be time to let things go.
The bad blood between the two players overshadowed Chelsea’s 0-0 draw with local rival Queens Park Rangers. During the traditional pre-match handshake, Ferdinand snubbed Terry as well as Terry’s Chelsea teammate, Ashley Cole.
It wasn’t unexpected, of course. Ferdinand had accused Terry of racially abusing him last season during the same fixture at Loftus Road. Terry has vehemently denied the charges and in July was cleared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, but not by the Football Association. Terry will go before an independent disciplinary tribunal later this month. Cole, who like Ferdinand is black, testified on Terry’s behalf.
Clearly, Ferdinand doesn’t need a judge or jury to tell him what he heard and how he should respond to Cole and especially Terry, the former England captain. He decided not to shake hands, which is his right.
But Ferdinand is also wrong.
The QPR defender missed a golden opportunity to take the high road. He could have been the bigger man here and extended his hand to Terry and Cole. It doesn’t mean he has to spend the Christmas holiday with either player, but Ferdinand could have taught a valuable lesson to everyone, especially young soccer fans in London.
Soccer’s governing body, FIFA, has taken a proactive role in addressing racism in the sport among players and spectators. The charges levied against Terry are being taken very seriously by the FA, which still may punish Terry.
Last season, Liverpool’s Luis Suarez was banned eight matches for racially abusing Manchester United Patrice Evra. When the two teams met later in the season, Evra was willing to offer forgiveness but it was Suarez, a wonderful player who needs to grow up, who snubbed Evra. Sir Alex Ferguson called Suarez a "disgrace to Liverpool Football Club" and stated that he should never play for the Reds again.
Ferguson has never been once to mince words and his idea of banning Suarez permanently from Anfield is over the top to say the least. But to Liverpool’s credit, the club has ordered Suarez to shake hands with Evra before Sunday’s highly anticipated home match against United.
QPR left it up to the players to decide how to handle the pre-match handshake, with Rangers manager Mark Hughes telling reporters: "The players had a discussion and I was made aware that some of them were prepared to shake and some weren’t. I didn’t know which individuals were involved. It was a personal choice of each of them."
Terry was actually snubbed twice. QPR captain Ji-sung Park ignored Terry as the pair gathered at midfield for the coin toss. Park came to QPR from United where he played with Ferdinand’s brother, Rio. Park is also close friends with Evra.
There is something to be said for QPR's solidarity. Racism shouldn't be tolerated, and both Ferdinand and Park made their points. But now it is time to move on. The two teams play again, appropriately enough, on Jan. 1 at Stamford Bridge.
Ferdinand should begin the New Year by shaking Terry's hand and beating Chelsea. That would be a good way to welcome 2013, right?
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