Time for Anton Ferdinand to Be the Bigger Man in John Terry Racism Row
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Gordon Taylor today stated that Anton Ferdinand's handshake refusal could turn the row into a "mafia feud."
Terry and Ferdinand became embroiled in a racism scandal almost a year ago, when John Terry was accused of racially abusing Ferdinand, an accusation which he denied and was cleared of in court.
The main evidence for the prosecution was an incriminating video, which seemingly showed Terry yelling a racial slur.
I am not here to argue whether or not Terry is guilty of the act for which he was accused—that is for the courts and the FA to decide.
However, after almost a year, it is surprising to many that the situation continues to drag on.
Ferdinand is understandably upset over the acquittal of Terry, and has shown his displeasure this weekend before the match. He also took objection to Ashley Cole's testimony in defense of his teammate, and refused to shake his hand.
Ferdinand did what he felt he had to, and as a result nobody could doubt where he stands on this issue.
But enough is enough.
It is now time for Ferdinand to show to Terry, Cole and the rest of us that he is the bigger man.
I do not mean to lesson the seriousness of racial abuse. On the contrary, any use of the phrase that Terry uttered is unacceptable—even if it was, as he claimed, in defense of a false accusation.
Certainly Ferdinand is hurt and humiliated by the result of the summer's trial, but to carry it on by refusing handshakes and starting civil action can only make matters worse.
The point of the handshake before the game is to demonstrate a gesture of good will. A simple handshake is intended to show that, despite anything that has happened, players can still be civil to each other.
To deny a handshake seems nothing more than petty.
To better illustrate my point, think back to February and another infamous race row.
Before the match, as with Terry and Ferdinand, a handshake was refused. The key difference however, was that in this situation, Evra—the victim—was the one who was denied by Suarez.
Suarez had already received a ban from the FA, and had he simply taken Evra's hand, the issue may have passed. However, Suarez' refusal merely stoked the fire to an already intense derby match.
Now, Evra did not come out completely innocent in this issue, celebrating United's victory within close proximity of Suarez and other Liverpool players. However, his offer of a hand to Suarez before the match showed great class in the face of an ugly situation.
Few would blame Ferdinand for not doing the same, but he surely would have been applauded had he done so.
With the impending FA hearing, this issue is sure to stay in the limelight. However, Ferdinand's refusal to shake hands with Terry and Cole will fan the flames of an already raging fire. He had the chance to show everyone that he is the bigger man, but he did not take it.
The best course of action for Ferdinand now is to let it go. He does not have to go back on his testimony—indeed he should not—but he can show that he is above the racists by moving forward with dignity.
So once Terry is punished (as he most certainly will be) by the FA, Ferdinand should take the result, accept it and move on.
QPR next meet Chelsea on New Year's Day. A new year, a fresh start, a time to forget what has passed. Anton Ferdinand should start the new year by offering his hand to John Terry.
Only then will he truly be able to move on.
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