If only Rio had done what he was perfectly within his rights to do and turn his back on England, for good. He had no reason to feel he owed his country anything, not after the ‘footballing reasons’ snub of last summer.
I’ll concede that Ferdinand might have handled the decision regarding his latest withdrawal a little bit better. There’s not much point making a big play of wanting to be involved if you don’t think you’re training regime will allow it. And, I can understand why he pisses a lot of people off. Even so, the abuse he got from England fans during the San Marino match was a sad, sorry, and depressing indictment on a country that can’t appreciate one of the best centre-backs of his generation, and we’re talking globally here. Ferdinand would have walked into pretty much any team at his best.
It really doesn’t help when the England captain, Steven Gerrard, feels the need to condone the England fans who spent the evening calling Ferdinand a wanker. At best the England fans were showing their disdain for a perceived snub from Ferdinand, but if that’s all it was, why the need for a reprisal of Chelsea’s ‘you know what you are’ number?
This chant has racist connotations. Sorry, but it does. It was sung by a section of Chelsea fans immediately following the allegations made by Anton Ferdinand against John Terry. Remember, the same section of Chelsea fans proceeded to boo Rio Ferdinand for being the brother of someone that John Terry racially abused.
The England fans could have just left it at ‘are you watching Rio’ or even ‘Rio Ferdinand is a wanker’ I don’t really care, and I doubt Ferdinand does that much. But, bringing that chant into things drags it right back to one of the most unpleasant periods of the Premier League’s relatively short history.
I might be overreacting and making something out of nothing, but the Ferdinand/Terry incident was divisive and brought a lot of very unpleasant stuff out into the open.
You would hope and expect the England Captain to show a little bit more diplomacy, given the circumstances . But, then again, the last England captain was John Terry.