England’s Cup team switches captains over infidelity
Defender John Terry was recently stripped of his captainship for the 2010 World Cup by England head coach Fabio Capello. Oddly, this action was not taken because of a slip in performance or injury, but rather in response to an unsavory episode in Terry’s personal life.
Terry has been accused of having an affair with French actress Vanessa Perroncel, the former girlfriend of teammate Wayne Bridge. Parties involved have known about the affair since as early as last year, but an injunction from the High Court of England barred media coverage.
Capello refuses to comment on his switch to Rio Ferdinand as captain. It seems he wants to punish Terry for breaking up team unity. As a captain and veteran player, he was expected to set a good example.
Capello decided on a firm course of action, but one that would not cause further damage to the team’s makeup.
Terry will remain on the roster, and he will play in England’s next game against Egypt on March 3. We will have to wait and see if this incident affects the quality of his play on the field.
This is not the first time infidelity has caused problems for a national team.
Twelve years ago, then-U.S. national team coach Steve Sampson was put in a similar situation. John Harkes’ alleged affair with the wife of teammate Eric Wynalda was made public, and Sampson was forced to make a decision.
Instead of taking the captain’s armband from Harkes, he pulled him off the squad two months before the first game of the 1998 World Cup. Harkes never played for the United States again, though he was arguably the team’s best player at that time.
The rest of the squad traveled to France, where they lost all three of their games. They returned home ranked last of the 32 teams that qualified.
The United States had to wait four years for another opportunity to prove itself. Capello will have to consider this while dealing with this delicate situation. Compared to Sampson’s decision to drop his player, Capello probably made the better decision.
While Terry and Bridge are two of the veteran defenders on the squad, England is a deep team with players like Gary Neville and fellow Chelsea defender Ashley Cole.
Both players have worked their entire careers for this opportunity, and at their age, they might not get another chance to compete for a World Cup.
Before they play together in March, Terry and Bridge must compete against each other in the Barclay’s Premiere League.
English soccer fans are some of the most passionate in the world, and they can be cruel. This game will be a test to see if they can put their personal troubles aside and do what they do best.
Both players are seen as ambassadors of their sport, but in a high intensity game, anything can happen. This ordeal was ugly, but it will blow over quickly if the two can focus on the game.