John Terry has today been stripped of the England captaincy for a second time following allegations of racism.
Terry allegedly called Anton Ferdinand a “black cunt” in Chelsea’s defeat against QPR. In last weekend’s Cup game between the two clubs the FA scrapped the traditional handshake ahead of kick-off after it became apparent that the QPR players would snub Terry in support of Ferdinand.
Ahead of Sunday’s game people have wondered whether Rio will also refuse to shake Terry’s hand, given that it is his brother who the Chelsea captain has supposedly racially abused.
“Rio’s been fighting the racism issue for years,” said Ferguson. “But he’s nothing to be ashamed of if he does decide to shake John Terry’s hand.”
It is hard to imagine how Rio could shake Terry’s hand following what he believes he has said to his brother.
Whilst it would be fairly sad, given Fabio Capello’s bizarre unwavering support for Terry, Rio may feel as though snubbing the handshake will mean he misses out on England’s squad for the Euros this summer. How can the two play alongside each other in the centre of defence if they can’t even shake each other’s hand? Rio hasn’t represented England at a major tournament since joining United and this will obviously be his last opportunity. He was due to captain England to the last World Cup but was injured in training ahead of the tournament.
However, what will it say about Rio’s integrity if he does choose to shake the hand of the man who his brother feels racially abused him?
In his autobiography, Rio revealed that he once overheard a well known England defender call his West Ham team mate a “black bastard” and a “coon”.
“If I name the player who came out with the most racist abuse I’ve ever heard on a football field, no one would believe it,” he said. “I guarantee you’d be astonished. Legally I couldn’t reveal the bloke’s identity because I couldn’t prove anything in a court of law, but I heard it loud and clear. It involved a black player in our side up against a very well-known opponent. Every time our player got the ball and was attacking him, the guy’s going, ‘Come on, you black bastard. Try to get past me, you coon,’ all sorts of racist stuff. I’m thinking, ‘Am I hearing this right? I can’t be hearing this right.’”
Whilst of course I’m not for one second suggesting this player is Terry, it is what Rio went on to say about this incident which is important.
“The player concerned comes over as quite a nice bloke. You wouldn’t imagine he could come out with such crap but he does. He probably reckons it’s all part of the game. Well not to me it isn’t. It’s bang out of order, our player should have reported him. Maybe I should have done something about it, but I was young at the time and didn’t want to get involved. I’m disappointed now with how I turned a blind eye to it. I’d like to think if it happened today I would make an example of him.”
Terry is innocent until proven guilty, however damning the evidence against him might be, but if Anton believes that he has been racially abused by this man, surely Rio can’t turned a blind eye to it?
Made in Manchester is available for just £5. It includes 30 articles from the country's best football writers about graduates from the Manchester United academy. Everyone who buys a copy enters a competition to win the new home shirt. All profit goes to Trafford Macmillan so please support this fantastic cause.