The John Terry Saga: An Error of Judgement

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“Don Fabio makes the right decision – sacks love rat John Terry” is one of the many celebratory headlines commending the Italian England football team manager’s decision of stripping John Terry of captaincy. Many newspapers seem to think that this ability of Fabio’s to take quick, clear and ‘seemingly’ fearless decisions is what is going to lead England to World Cup glory. I am not arguing with Mr. Capello’s vast experience and immense success in the footballing world but I cannot for the life of me understand how sacking John Terry – an incredibly consistent good player and superb leader on the field is taking the right decision in terms of football. Now if Fabio Capello was the Pope then his decision would be correct but as a football manager his job is to get the best performance out of his players on the field. But lets not talk about his decision just yet, there is just so much wrong with the whole John Terry saga that Capello’s decision seems almost dull!

It all started with the overthrow of an injunction in the High Court by Mr. Justice Tugendhat who for some bizarre reason felt John Terry and his family did not deserve any privacy. Now, I am not trying to defend JT’s actions; what he did was wrong but not because he was having an affair with Vanessa Perroncel the former girlfriend, (former being the key word here) of his former Chelsea and England teammate Wayne Bridge. It was wrong simply because John Terry is a married man. The judge got it absurdly wrong when he assumed that it was a just punishment for John Terry. He forgot that it isn’t just John Terry who is affected by this news but also his wife who had to go through not only being betrayed by the man whom she has been in love with since the age of 16 but also shame and hurt that everyone from England to Canada knows about his betrayal. I wonder how Tony Terry if she had been given the choice, would have liked to handle this very private matter between her husband and her. Even though I see everyone involved in this sordid saga as a victim(including John Terry and Vanessa Perroncel who have everything to lose from it), the other more conventionally accepted victim is Wayne Bridge. Once again I can’t help but think that may be he too would have liked to have had the option of keeping this entire episode under wraps for the sake of his child and former girlfriend.

The judge also took away a parent’s prerogative of keeping secrets from their children which will probably have a long term effect on their relationships with their children later in life. I don’t know if Tony Terry will decide to leave her husband or not but one cannot rule out that it is probably a lot tougher to forgive and forget about your partner’s indiscretions when there have been pages upon pages published about them with every sordid detail sickeningly described. It could be enough to make you want to call it quits just so you don’t have to live with the horror of everyone judging you for your decision. It could lead to 2 more children growing up in a broken home. John Terry could be deprived of seeing his daughters grow-up. A lot of cynics out there would argue he should have thought of that when he cheated on his wife… so he made a mistake, may be he was a lousy husband but that doesn’t automatically make him a terrible father.

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Finally is the public outcry about his behaviour and demands for him being punished by being stripped of captaincy. Firstly, the public had no right to this very private information about John Terry’s life. He is a public figure and anything that he does on the field is information that the public has right to but what goes on in his life off the field is really none of their business. The outrage that followed the revelations was amusing and disturbing. He was immediately labeled a sex-addict, a love-rat, a disgrace! Vanessa Perroncel was forgotten for some time with all the wrath being unleashed on this good for nothing footballer whose father was coke selling junkie and mum was a shoplifter, who they’d never invite in for a cup of tea and who like all footballers was overpaid! Terrible jokes and stinging songs, hate-chants and boos were hurtled at the Chelsea captain. When they couldn’t think of more nasty/witty things about JT, we decided it was Vanessa Perroncel who was at fault. Well, it takes two and what both of them did was wrong but what the media and the public did was criminal.

I wonder how Wayne Bridge would have reacted had he not have had to go through the public humiliation, the well-intended ‘Team Bridge’ t-shirts worn by his teammates at Manchester City included of being betrayed by his former girlfriend and teammate. He would have probably realised that his relationship had been over with Vanessa before her affair with John Terry and seen that raking the matter would only be destructive. May be it wouldn’t be so tough for him to play in a team where John Terry was the captain after having handled the whole thing privately without the media and the public igniting his anger. It’s possible that in time he would even forgiven Terry his stupidity.

If this had happened Fabio Capello probably wouldn’t have had to take such a un-footballing decision of stripping John Terry of captaincy which ultimately only weakens the England Football Team. But with the whole country agitated, Fabio had to be seen taking seemingly strong decision and punishing John Terry which I think is solely Tony Terry’s prerogative. Anyone who really needs to be punished and stripped of his robes, is the judge.

A truly strong decision would have been standing by John Terry and letting him remain the captain of England because he is a great footballer, period.

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