Rio Ferdinand was left out of the England squad that travelled to Euro 2012 in Ukraine.
The 33-year olds abilities have diminished over the years, and this was given as the main reason he was left at home. But considering his place in the Manchester United backline has remained secure, there are few doubts about the underlying reason for Ferdinand’s absence: an ongoing racism feud that centered on Ferdinand’s defensive partner, John Terry.
Terry – who has almost adamantly transformed from England hero to Kenny Powers – racially insulted Rio’s brother Anton when Chelsea took on QPR last season. Terry was caught on camera calling him a “fucking black cunt” during the course of the game.
Terry was cleared of racial abuse over the summer, but the Footballing Association, which oversees the Premier League in England, hit Terry with a four-match ban last week.
Four matches wasn’t enough for Ferdinand, and this Saturday before Man U’s game against Stoke Ferdinand refused to wear a “Kick it Out” (a campaign to kick racism out of football [soccer]) warm-up shirt, a move that caused controversy around the league, and prompting his white manager Sir Alex Ferguson to state that he would be “dealt with” for his actions (the two have since spoken and are now on the same page.)
But Ferdinand was right to make a stand regardless of what happened to Terry.
Soccer has seen many incidents of racism over the past year: Luis Suarez was banned for eight matches last season, Italians wore blackface to support Mario Balotelli during the summer, monkey chants occurred at Euro 2012 practices, and a warning from a former player against black families travelling to the Euros at all.
It didn’t stop at the Euros. Last weekend England charged Serbia with racial abuse, and one player was hit by stones during a throw-in and subject to racist chants throughout the match.
And people were getting upset because Rio Ferdinand didn’t wear a t-shirt?
FIFA and UEFA are all about these slogans, shirts, and handshakes: the FIFA president Sepp Blatter went on record saying the pre-match handshakes would cure racism from the game. But what have they actually done to cure anything on the pitch or in the world?
Clearly, if the events of the last twelve months are any indication, nothing. And until they do, Rio Ferdinand should wear whatever damn shirt he wants.