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Sunday, September 09, 2012

QPR Report Sunday: "Do QPR Know What They're Doing?"...Handshake?...John Terry...Sousa...Kulcsar Meningitis Flashback


The Guardian's Rob Bagchi -  A Premier League start with more questions than answers

Has Owen still got it? Will Chelsea win the league? The international break paused 10 tantalising plot lines... 

Do QPR know what they're doing?

They were caught utterly cold by Swansea on the opening day, had their defence exposed again by Norwich before rallying to secure a 1-1 draw and then looked more solid despite losing 3-1 to the champions. Having signed 12 players and let 16 leave it was always going to take time for QPR's new team to bed down, but despite all the trading their full-backs remain weak defensively while some of the signings hint at a trolley dash approach. Relatively new owner plus relatively new manager and a brand new team. What could possibly go wrong?...

   Queen's Park Rangers CEO Philip Beard on Sky's Footballers' Football Show this week- Video Beard Talking Re QPR Summer Transfers

MIRROR - On shaky ground: Premier League refuses to scrap handshakes ahead of latest Terry-Ferdinand meeting

Chelsea play QPR on Saturday and the Rangers defender could decide to snub both John Terry and Ashly Cole in the pre-match ritual

Defiant Premier League chiefs have no plans to scrap the pre-match handshakes when John Terry and Anton Ferdinand are due to go face-to-face for the first time this season.

But that is unlikely to stop Ferdinand snubbing Terry before Saturday’s clash between QPR and Chelsea at Loftus Road. There are also doubts over whether Ferdinand will shake hands with Terry’s Chelsea team-mate Ashley Cole.

Terry limped out of England’s win over Moldova with a twisted ankle and will now also miss Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier against Ukraine, but the 31-year-old is confident he’ll be fit to face QPR. Cole, out of both internationals, also hopes to make the game.

Chelsea captain Terry was cleared of racially abusing Ferdinand by Westminster Magistrates’ Court in July, but is still facing an FA charge for allegedly using racially abusive language towards the QPR man.

Terry denied the FA charge and requested a personal hearing.

Court in the act: John Terry was cleared by the courts but still faces an FA charge

Cole appeared as a witness for Terry in court and soon after Anton’s older brother Rio seemingly endorsed a tweet describing the left-back as a ‘choc ice’ – a slang term perceived as meaning black on the outside and white on the inside.

Rio was hit with a £45,000 fine by the FA after being charged with improper conduct over the tweet.

The Premier League cancelled the pre-match handshake, when Chelsea last played QPR in April after lawyers for Terry and Ferdinand made it clear neither man was prepared to take part in it and argued it could impact on the court case.

But with the legal case now over, the Premier League insist there is no reason for them to once again ditch the handshakes.

The only way that could change is if both Chelsea and QPR make representation to the Premier League this week to request the handshakes are scrapped. QPR refuse to comment on the matter, while it is believed Chelsea are unlikely to approach Premier League chiefs.

The FA gave QPR and Chelsea permission not to take part in the pre-match handshake ahead of their FA Cup tie in January, but that was because Ferdinand had received a death threat. They have no plans to intervene this time around.

The Premier League did not cancel the pre-match handshake between Manchester United and Liverpool last season, when Luis Suarez refused to shake the hand of Patrice Evra.

And Terry has been snubbed before, when Wayne Bridge would not shake his hand ahead of Chelsea’s game against Manchester City in 2010 Mirror


Chelsea's John Terry faces tough task defending against the FA

Statistics stacked against former England captain as he prepares for disciplinary hearing over racial abuse charges

Danny Taylor

If there is one thing we know about John Terry by now it is that he is not ordinarily someone who lets insecurity pollute his mind. A man of "almost uncanny mental strength", to quote Chelsea's chairman, Bruce Buck, during those five days in July when Terry stood in the dock at Westminster magistrates' court and asked us to believe he was not guilty of a racist slur. "Other people have it," Buck told the trial, "but I've never seen it quite like John Terry has it."

Terry is back at Loftus Road next Saturday, the first time he has played at QPR since the full excruciating details were laid bare about what happened when the sides met there last October. Yet you would back him to cope in front of a hostile crowd. The abuse will wash over him, just as it did when they met in the FA Cup at the end of January. Anton Ferdinand, and possibly others, may sooner chew on broken glass than touch flesh in the pre-match handshake, but Terry is conditioned not to be bothered by things like that.

In court, there was no real emotion when the words "not guilty" were read out. Two of his supporters – thick-set, in their 50s – celebrated as though a goal had been scored, punching the air and shouting "get in". The woman with two kids in Chelsea shirts cracked open a bottle of pink Cava. But Terry was impassive. No visible signs of relief or joy, and certainly no tears.

It is what happens after the game, specifically his disciplinary hearing with the Football Association, that might be weighing more heavily on his mind, especially if Terry has looked closely at the numbers and worked out the conviction rate in these cases is much higher than in the judicial system; staggeringly so. The FA, to put it into context, found a total of two not-guilty verdicts out of the 473 cases it heard in 2011. That is getting on for a one-in-250 ratio. Or 0.4%, to be precise. Which is markedly different to the Home Office figures for court cases, with one magistrates' hearing out of every six leading to non-conviction (16.7%), and marginally higher (18.2%) at crown court.

The FA, in short, generally only takes on the cases it believes it will win, with a clear distinction between the degree of evidence it needs – operating on the balance of probabilities – compared to that required by a court to secure a criminal conviction. Terry has some of the sharpest legal minds in London working on his behalf and has always said he welcomes the chance to prove his innocence. To get off, however, he will have to be the exception rather than the norm.

The alternative is yet more damage, this time potentially irreparable, to Terry's already tarnished reputation, plus intense scrutiny about his position in the England team and the sense, shared here, that the FA will have to look very closely at whether he can be selected again.

Roy Hodgson says of course he can. The England manager has made it clear he wants to continue picking Terry unless there is "an enormous ban", but it is surely not that straightforward when a player has been charged with calling an opponent "a F***ing black c**t". Wishful thinking, perhaps, but England's footballers are meant to be ambassadors for their country. A guilty verdict within the game's own organisation should, at the very least, compel the people above Hodgson to discuss whether the decision is taken out of his hands. And rightly so.

Chelsea, too, are entitled to be twitchy given that article 6.5 of the club's official charter promises "a zero-tolerance policy towards discrimination", meaning anyone found guilty of such an offence should expect the sack. Would they dare fire Terry? Put it this way, there's more chance of Roman Abramovich turning up at the local soup kitchen, but Chelsea must eventually hold their own inquiry. Anything else and they run the risk of undermining all their previous work at tackling race issues.

The obvious get-out clause, should they need one, is that the chief magistrate, Howard Riddle, concluded in July that the case of racial abuse could not be proved beyond reasonable doubt. Riddle's 13-page judgment casts doubt on Terry's explanation, saying it "is, certainly under the cold light of forensic examination, unlikely", but the television footage was obscured and there were no independent witnesses who could disprove Terry's story, namely that he thought he heard Ferdinand accuse him of saying the offensive words as they argued about a disputed penalty appeal. Terry's defence was that, in his outrage, he repeated them back indignantly, but not as an insult. In other words that, yes, he did say it, but in a part-horrified, part-angry "as if?" tone.

It was, in Riddle's words, "not the most obvious response". Kick It Out, the sport's leading anti-racism group, feels the same way, aligning itself with the Ferdinand family. The FA, using an independent commission chaired by a QC, is certainly entitled to put it to Terry that many people would consider it an unnatural choice of words in any circumstances.

But there are quite a few things that don't stack up. Why, for instance, did the London Evening Standard run a story, in the hours after the game, with "a source close to Terry" in full damage-limitation mode, saying the word had been "blind" rather than "black" and that it was all a misunderstanding? Poppycock, as it turned out, but there is a serious issue here, surely, if the source of this story was working legitimately on Terry's behalf.

Why, too, was the referee, Chris Foy, not summoned to give evidence in court? Terry told the court Foy had heard Ferdinand's alleged words. Yet Foy has told the Premier League he heard nothing. Foy was the nearest person to Ferdinand and his account should be key.

The FA should also do everything it can to obtain mobile-phone records given that, in court, the prosecution put it to Ashley Cole, the key defence witness, that a cover-up had been orchestrated after the players started getting messages about internet footage of the relevant clip. Cole's response was that it was his recollection that there was never a signal in the dressing rooms at Loftus Road. Yet QPR say there is signal. The FA needs to know which version is correct.

Then we come to the statements from Terry's colleagues and associates. Seventeen players, plus José Mourinho and even the guy who supplies Chelsea players with drivers. All confirmed they had never heard Terry make a racist remark. But why no Didier Drogba or Florent Malouda, or Mikel John Obi or Nicolas Anelka – senior, black players, all involved in the QPR game? Their absence may have a simple explanation, but it is strange, to say the least.

Above all, the FA cannot be rushed, despite impatient calls demanding to know why the hearing has not already taken place. It was always going to be delayed until after Chelsea's game at QPR to avoid inflaming tensions ahead of an already volatile match. Before then, Terry should win his 79th England cap in Tuesday's game against Ukraine, providing the ankle he twisted in Moldova on Friday is not too bad. What nobody can guarantee is that there will be an 80th. Guardian


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