'Innocent until proven guilty' is an absolute maxim of British life. As such all accusations against John Terry after he was charged with a racially aggravated public order offence of a racist slur made towards Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand must remain alleged until he has been through the due process of the law. However, with the media circus about to engulf this case we are reminded that all leaders must command the respect and confidence of all around them. Once either or both of these are lost, their very leadership, in John Terry's case the captaincy of the England football team, must be brought into question.
Leaders must possess an attribute over and above the people that they seek to lead. In organisations and communities this characteristic may vary. In academia it may be papers written or grants awarded; in business it may be wealth; in social circles it may be networks. In the football dressing room the key attributes for leadership will be the best player, the oldest player or the player with the most caps. One and the same player may have all three qualities and more often than not it will be the team captain.
Most importantly, what links leadership in all fields together, is that the sound judgement of the leader is trusted. When they speak others around them are inspired, and their team mates and peers respect their opinion even if they don't always agree. They are able to keep their head 'when all about you are losing theirs' and are able to act as an ambassador for their country with pride on the global stage. John Terry may well be found not guilty in his legal troubles, but nevertheless, he no longer has the distinguishing qualities required to be captain of the England football team.
Last February John Terry was stripped of the captaincy following newspaper allegations surrounding his private life. Undoubtedly this had a negative impact on England in the run up to the World Cup 2010. This latest incident creates controversy for him again in the run up to a major tournament - a distraction England can ill afford. Certainly, the allegations of misdeameanour dogging Terry for a second time suggest a pattern of behaviour that shows a lack of respect for the honour of the England captaincy.
Furthermore, the Football Association has been put in an impossible situation. Firstly, is the realisation that this issue could overshadow England's preparation for Euro 2012 including the friendly against Holland in February, the same month as Terry's preliminary hearing. Secondly, given the FA's firm stance against Sepp Blatter's derisory and condescending remarks on racism in football, a lack of action against John Terry may make them appear hypocritical.
Terry has also lost the confidence of the Lord Herman Ouseley, the chairman of the anti-racism campaign Kick It Out who said 'there is an issue of the morality, of the leadership, the standard we set, the ethics for football'. Lord Ouseley also criticised Chelsea for offering "blanket support" to Terry. Umbro, the national team kit manufacturers have used a picture of an England team led by Steven Gerrard and not Terry on their official website. The spectacle around this story only worsens with the Daily Mail's ludicrous headline 'The picture that shows the caring side of John Terry as he poses in Hamleys with a black baby'.
The England captain must have a formidable reputation and their integrity must be beyond reproach. They must give confidence to all stakeholders and inspire the England squad including the Ferdinand brothers Rio and Anton (if he were to be selected). The possibility of continous and disruptive negative headlines must have serious implications over John Terry's future captaincy of England. Fabio Capello must use his own sound judgement to do what he has had to do once before and relieve Terry of the England captaincy.
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