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Gun at work – ok. Naughty tweet – a tap on the wrist. John Terry – we’ll think about it. Where is the morality?

By Tony Attwood

I’ve only been given a formal reprimand once during my working life.  Obviously I have been aided by the fact for much of my life I have either owned the company I worked for, or worked as a writer (where the publisher can just say “no thanks”) or a musician (wherein rock bands tend not to use the delicate processes of employment law).

When I got my warning I was Senior Lecturer in Music, and my superiors didn’t like what I had said about the quality of our degrees at an examiners’ meeting.

So I have no experience of someone bringing a gun to work and shooting a trainee within the company, but on the basis of normal humanity it seems something of a worse offence than talking out of turn in a university meeting.  But you’ll recall the story – in February 2011 Cole accidentally shot Tom Cowan from just 5ft away with a .22 rifle (the most powerful weapon you can have in the UK without a licence) at the club’s training ground.

Chelsea said: ‘We have fully investigated the incident and we are taking appropriate action. We will not be commenting further as it is an internal matter.’

It  seemed to me at the time that this was not enough – either by Chelsea or by the FA.  But then, I suppose such organisations work in a different way either from the crazy world of rock n roll or the morally bankrupt world of football.

As for John Terry, well I’ve never been done for sneaking someone into a private area like a training ground for a fee.  When the band rehearsed (I use the word lightly) people milled around.  As an academic we welcomed visitors to our hallowed grounds.  So when in 2009, John Terry was investigated by Chelsea and the FA for supposedly taking money from a reporter for a private tour of Chelsea’s training ground, all we got (despite the footage that seemed clearly to show this happening) all we got was a Chelsea statement that it was “confident that at no time did Terry ask for or accept money in relation to visits to the training ground.”  Had this been true we might have expected a legal case against the paper and its undercover reporters.  There was not one.

Meanwhile Cole on his tweet was just behaving as he always does – with total disregard for anyone else, including the country he plays for.  But then in continuing to select him, and in continuing to work within Fifa, the FA hold us all in contempt.

John Terry on YouTube says “You fucking black cunt … fucking knobhead” to Anton Ferdinand, and he then claimed he was repeating what Ferdinand said to him.  As if.  Even the   Westminster Chief Magistrate said Terry’s defence was “unlikely”.   But in court, given that we are thankfully still a democracy, the burden of proof is much much higher, and if there is any doubt, you can get away with it.  And yes I would sooner Terry get away with it in court than our democratic legal system be reduced any further.

If I had said “You fucking black cunt … fucking knobhead” I would have been thrown out of any job I had – and even though the world of rock music can be appallingly racist I think even the bands would have kicked me out.

So we move on to Chelsea.  What is the world like in the head of Roman Abramovich?  Is it a world where since winning is everything you want to carry on with people like this?  And yes I know Arsenal stayed with Tony Adams when he was locked up for drink driving, but somehow it doesn’t seem the same, given that thankfully no one was hurt with that offence, with Cole’s driving offence, and with the same matter that has just arisen at Arsenal. What Adams did was awful, but it was away from football and he served the sentence he was given.

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I know we are tribal – we all support our clubs to the bitter end – but isn’t there an end before that, an end which says, “if my club supports that man, my support changes”?

Would I still be happy with Mr Wenger and Arsenal if Terry played for us?  There’s no way you can judge what sort of moral standards I have, so you would just have to take my word for it and say no.   I would want Arsenal to win – but not with Terry.  I genuinely don’t know if I would not go, go and boo Terry, or what I would do, but at the very least I would feel a deep moral uncertainty about my club at this point.  Not least because Arsenal, in keeping him, would themselves have abandoned all their stands against racism.  I think I really would hand my membership back.

But then I would also expect the sponsors to leave.  Samsung is for me an absolute “no” for the rest of my life.  OK that won’t hurt them – but what else can I do?  Samsung support Chelsea and its inherent racism.  At least that is an easy decision for me to make.  Never buy Samsung again.

Chelsea were deeply involved in the Terry defence in court.  Cole supported him.  So did the Chelsea club secretary. The FA commission said there was a “very real concern” over the secretary’s evidence.  So the FA is now on the edge of saying Chelsea lied to it.  As well as remembering the Cole said “Hahahahaa, well done, #fa. I lied did I, #BUNCHOFTWATS”.

Apologies after events like that don’t really mean much.

This is football, Chelsea and the FA at work – as proven by the mess the FA makes of every single incident it is given to look at.  It is a bit like Hodgson considering giving the captaincy of England to Cole – as he did say in an interview before the FA told everyone there that they should not repeat that (come on guys this was a press meeting) because at this difficult time “it might reflect badly on the manager and the FA”.

The Guardian had an interesting comment on all this.  It said: “As one writer noted on Saturday: ‘Most footballers get through the day without uttering a racist remark’.”

In my company everyone gets through the day without ever uttering a racist remark.  If they did not, they would not be in my employ.

But we all know what will happen.  It will all just vanish won’t it.  It will be forgotten when England come out for their next match against the Azores or whoever they are playing.  Chelsea will be given the treatment by non-Chelsea supporters, and their supporters will continue to support Chelsea.

It kind of makes me feel rather ill.

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27 comments to Gun at work – ok. Naughty tweet – a tap on the wrist. John Terry – we’ll think about it. Where is the morality?

  • I applaud this article. It is refreshing to read something that just says it like it is.

    I can say with certainty, that I would stop supporting Arsenal if John Terry ever played for us. I would not support anyone else, i would just turn my back on football.

    There are actually very few players I like these days – football as a sport for the people vanished a long time ago. The term ‘morally bankrupt’ is spot on.

    John Terry should have been kicked out of the game – for life – a long time ago. He is a disgrace, not just to football but to our country. He represents everything that is wrong with football and humanity.

  • kaay

    i miss you when you dont write. keep it up

  • nicky

    While I agree 100% with the sentiments expressed in your post, Tony, I sometimes feel that the desire not to upset the growing trend against anything racist (in word or deed) often goes too far.
    For instance, the other day I read that someone in the media had referred to “coloured” players in UK football instead of “black”. I presume that he was merely identifying those not of a white skin, but there followed an enormous hoo ha with accusations of racism.
    In course of discussion on football matters, I have often said “One of the big changes in football, post WW2, has been the influx of coloured players”. Surely I could not be accused of racism by that innocent remark which, by the way, is factually correct.

  • Phil

    Great article

  • Stuart


    I also don’t get how referring to someone as coloured is racist when it is in fact, just a fact. People are also tall/short, friendly/unfriendly etc… It’s what differentiates us

    If you scratch the surface here, you will 99% of the time find it is white people claiming it is racist and not the people who are supposedly offended.

  • nicky

    Point taken. If I was referred to as a “whitey” I wouldn’t take umbrage. Or a “Honky”. Or even a “White Honky”. (One of my favourite jazz tunes is “Honky Tonk Train Blues”).

  • ARSENAL 13

    we prove every now and then ….WE ARE ALL ANIMALS.

    The day we rise above national, religious, racial discrimination……we become HUMANs. Its a long long way.

    I want ARSENAL to take a strict action against any racist player or supporter.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Great article. Chelsea’s role has been nothing short of a disgrace,this was clearly an organised cover up attempt, in contrast to the way the Liverpool owners have widely been reported as acting over Suarez (I am sure that was one of the reasons Pool sacked Dalglish). The word “class” will foerver be separated from the club that is the modern Chelsea. TBH I do not expect much from the likes of Cole or Terry but the club should show a much better example, as should the fans that hold up their ridiculous banner. Chelsea have their petrodollar moment in the sun but I am convinced some form of karma will eventually come their way…and have a feeling that and other things will eventually come the way of Mr Terry, you eventually come undone if you upset the amount of people he seems to.

  • Stuart

    And Russia is a very racist country

  • Mandy Dodd

    Looks like Cashley has been fined for his tweet. But Chelsea really have to take a stand on this…tho not holding my breath.
    Terry has plenty of history – there was the remark aimed at Ledley King. Then Rio’s mention in his autobioagaphy, where Terry was not named , but the reader was left in no doubt who was being referred to. The club, and the FA should have nipped this in the bud. After Terrys behaviour, it will be so much harder for the FA to complain about black England players being racially abused in other countries.
    You cannot create a situation where persons of dubious character to start with become untouchable….as the BBC are now finding at what will become a huge cost to their reputation

  • Matt Clarke

    Re Terry & Cole:
    “A good man brings forth good out of the good treasure of his heart, but a wicked man brings forth what is wicked out of his wicked [treasure]; for out of the heart’s abundance his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6,45. New World Translation)

    Re The FA:
    I find it hard to find words to describe how I feel. They keep on disappointing.

    Re: Chelsea FC
    Hopefully these things will impact on the players that will sign for them.

    Thanks for the article Tony.

  • marcus

    Seems to me that the first word Terry says in the video is “liar”, followed by what he claims to have said.

    I have no real interest in these matters, but the court found Terry innocent, so to dispute that as an institution, as has the FA, is akin to a kind of contempt of court.

    Of course courts can be wrong, but you would expect an institution like the FA to uphold the court’s judgement.

    I feel for Ashley Cole, who seems to have been defamed by the FA.

    To be honest, and I don’t say this lightly, I think the FA are only ever likely to mess things up , and make a bad situation worse. Fortunately most normal people get on well with each other….we don’t really need the FA or other nanny organizations telling us how to formulate our behaviour…

  • Mike T

    Beautiful writing but hey why let a good story get in the way of the facts!
    I read very interesting article by David Bean who was in charge of The FA regulatory department in which he questions both the independece of the commision and says in no uncertain terms that the findings & investigation were flawed. For those that havent read the commisions report lets look at what happened in releation to Coles statement
    In brief Cole was interviewed by two FA reps. Also present was and a chap called David Barnett who it seems is Chelsea’s football Secretary.
    For some reason these two FA reps, who had interviewed Terry and Mikel as well.
    It seems they had recorded the other interviews but failed to record the Cole interview. Following the interview the FA sent a written record for Cole to agree and sign
    A few days after receiving the draft Barnard contacted the FA and said they needed to be amended as during the interview Cole had said something along the lines of that Ferdinand said a B word which could have been Bridge or could have been black whereas the first draft only said Bridge. The wording was changed before Cole signed his interview notes off
    At the hearing the FA called one of the two FA reps whose notes were produced she gave evidence and said she was sure Cole hadn’t said the word Black. The FA didn’t call Cole, Barnard or indeed the other FA rep to give any evidence or explain.They quite simply based everything on one witness and written notes that the FA had previously told the CPS didn’t exist and in the case of the second FA rep weren’t produced when all other documents were produced to Terry’s team.They just happened to appear as the hearing was in its second day.
    As for Chelsea they wisely havent said or done anything yet as they could rightly be accused if they made comment. Dont forget how the press turned on Dalglish etc for making comment before it was known if Sureaz was going to appeal.
    Finaly I have to say it was only by very very good luck that Adams didnt kill someone following his D/D incident but to just dismiss that in effect by saying it was away from football is beyond belief.

  • Mike T

    Sorry I think the article was by Graham Bean not David Bean

  • Mike T, the Adams incident is indeed deeply troubling and I have thought a lot about it. The issue is very clear in the law, and Adams broke the law and received a prison sentence. Within my own personal morality (and that is what a lot of this comes down to) I do take the view that a person who breaks the law should be punished as the law lays down, and then be allowed back to work. To do otherwise is to increase the sentence as laid down by the courts. I don’t see how morally I can say that in an incident like Adams I can legitimately argue that having served his sentence he should not be allowed to work again, and indeed I can’t argue that his employer should not have taken him on.

    I don’t deny any of this is difficult.

  • Mike T


    So if I read you correctly Terry should be allowed to carry on for Chelsea when he has served his sentence when being found guilty of breaking the law as applied by the court? The trouble is he hasnt ever been found guilty in a court of law.
    Racism is disgusting . No right minded person would argue otherwise but my having been hit by a drunk driver, being close to losing a leg being off work for nearly a year , being unable to weight bear on my leg for 6 months I sort of have a real problem with drunk drivers.

  • Sisyphus

    Thank you, Tony;
    Articles like this are why I consistently read this blog. Like you I find my moral compass spinning out of control. I suspect that I am like most of your readers in that I find it difficult to take a stand that appears to support Mr. Terry or his trusty sidekick Cashley. But,I think the system is in need of a thorough review.
    It is my understanding that the magistrate, in Terry’s case, stated that there was no video or collaborative witness evidence to support either person as to what transpired. (Very similar circumstances to the Suarez/Evra affair.)
    Ignoring the fact that the FA case was delayed for so long, does anyone truly believe that an “independent inquiry” can carefully sift through three and one half days of “evidence” and hand down a reasoned decision, complete with a fitting level of punishment, in two and half hours. (Including time for lunch?)
    I believe that we are at the point where we need to address a number of areas:
    1) While the FA rules prohibit the use of any abusive and/ or insulting words and/or behaviour only issues of race are dealt with in a meaningful way. Both Mr. Evra and Mr. Ferdinand were found to have used provocation language. Are the FA afraid to enforce there own rules for fear that there would be no one left on the pitch?
    2) Both the Suarez and the Terry decisions were based on the ‘probability’ that the complainant was more credible than the accused. Has the FA established a precedent in its attempt to support its agenda?
    3) Apparently, neither accuser was charged or investigated for any abusive or insulting words or behaviour during their respective altercations. Why not?
    4) The level of punishment is totally inconsistent, and not just when comparing these two cases. (How about a comparison with Roy Keane’s fine (£150,000) and 5 game suspension (which was conveniently served while recovering from knee surgery) for a premeditated assault that finished a player’s career?)
    5) The FA is the perfect model for Lord Acton’s quotation; “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
    6) All is well because “John Terry is not a racist. (Sarcasm intended.)
    Am I alone in believing that the game exists despite, rather than because of, ‘the suits’?

  • weedonald

    What I fail to understand in all this is why the FA are charging Terry with racism when a British court has found him innocent? Do the FA have evidence of such a quality that it left no doubt about Terry’s intentions and racism? If so, why wasn’t that evidence presented to the court?
    Mike T-my sympathies are with you and the fact that a drunk driver injured you is horrible….I hope that person got punished and dealt with severely enough. That said, apparently Adams didn’t injure anyone and did serve his punishment and apparently never was caught again. Terry may or may not be a racist but, as you said, it is also a heinous crime and should be totally eradicated (as drunk driving should be) from the face of this earth. There Is enough racism in the game both in the UK and on the continent that FIFA and EUFA have totally failed to handle, that is what concerns Tony and all true Football aficionados!

  • Mike T

    JT has the best part of 10 days left to decide if he will appeal in this matter. Part of me says he shouldnt but a greater part of me says he should.
    Why you may ask
    Well quite simply the way in which the independent commision and indeed the FA have carried out their business is without question flawed and unless or untill their procedures are tightned up there is no way that any right minded person can have any sort in confidence in them as custodians of our great game.
    As significant chunk of the written report is about how the FAs own rules should be interpretead or most second guessing what the drafters probably meant. How can that be? Surely the wording should be crystal clear just as there should be a clear and written tariff as to penalties to be applied if a case is proven.
    I read an article elsewhere where the journalist points to 10 basic mistakes that the reports authours make. Two simple ones are they refer to Antons wife, minor point is he isnt married! They then talk about matters happening at a time when it was proven beyond doubt at the criminal hearing that the Chelsea team had left way before that point in time.
    If the authours cant get even basic things right how confident can we be in thier ability to work out the difference between the proability that something happened as oppossed to he possibility it might have.
    This is serious business so can I ask each of you how confident are you, bearing in mind the FAs track record of getting things so wrong in the past, that they are really to be trusted to be consistent and fair handed in such maatters.

  • Mike T

    Yes the driver was found guilty of several charges, dangerous driving, being over the limit, driving a car not fit etc etc and yes he was sent down.
    The trouble I have in all this is that society really doent rate the charge that Terry was found not guilty of as a very serious matter indeed had he found guilty the maximum fine would have been £2500 thats the same maximum if he had been caught speeding on the motorway.

  • Mandy Dodd

    On the subject of morality in football – seems like diving has reared its head…again.
    An interesting take from MOTD – highlighting the Suarez dive but glossing over Bale – which was just as bad. Seems like the Spuds still have their friends in the media even after Arrys departure.
    Also, love the hypocracy of Pulis, perhaps rightly having a go at Suarez, but completely forgetting to mention Huths stamping – which will hopefully be punished if the FA show fairness and justice on this occasion.

  • Woolwich Peripatetic


    I watched MOTD2 where they ripped the piss out of Bale’s dive, so maybe there is some good in them.

  • Paul "the Gooner"

    Regarding Terry,bottom line “he is a low life, that happens to be very good at football”.
    I suggest you all read the ist or 2nd chapter in Graham Polls book on why he gave up.Yes, the 3 bookings was one, but Terry,Cole and the liar of a Manager(ask the Reading Ambulance guys) had a great deal to do with it.Poll sent of Terry in a match v the Spuds and all hell was let loose.
    Regarding Stoke and Huth, Huth has a history of this sort of thing.

  • weedonald

    Mike T…….couldn’t agree more,racism and DUI are both serious, anti-social crimes and SHOULD be taken far more seriously than they are. I worked for years with adolescents trying to convince them that alcohol and automobiles don’t mix but when they see some a**hole getting a slap on the wrist for driving under the influence and getting caught many times, it enrages them and me.
    Racism isn’t taken seriously by anyone these days….its all blahblah by the sleazy politicians and PR people but when it comes to punishing this type of ignorance, they turn their backs and pretend that all is well (Blatter,Platini,Scudmore, the courts, etc.). I see this passive agressive and subterfuge racism everyday in ordinary people who should know better.

  • John Terry was just lucky with 4 match penalty, he should have been banned for the whole season just like a player who have doped. I don’t see why he was spared but all the same Chelsea have always been on the long side with funny funny behaviors like night stands. They should be role models but all they do is tarnish the clubs name just because they are untouchables, the same players who fire coaches and as well as decide who play and who don’t.

    Lucky we belong to Arsenal.

  • Mike T

    I really didn’t want to get in to it but as it says in a book something about those without sins etc.
    Based on some posters comment you would have thought no Arsenal player has ever stepped out of line. Others fully accept the moral dilemma that say Tony Adams DD event caused but what about a current player of yours that was cautioned for spitting at a taxi driver or another of your current players who was fined for tweeting “Scum Yid”
    Most footballers aren’t the brightest of the bunch yes they are sportsman but in truth all professional footballers really are is entertainers. To suggest that entertainers in general should be role models I think is a total misunderstanding of who qualifies to be called or perhaps more to point what a role model is.
    I accept that kids aspire to be footballers and idolise the top players but surely a role model is someone whose high moral standards, commendable behaviour and humanity are the heights that should inspire not to someone that can hit a 40 yard cross field pass.
    For me it would be naïve to say or expect, save the exception of one group, that all those within a particular group should assume the mantle of a role model.
    One of my role models was a teacher of mine others were deplorable humans, another was an ex-boss, alas another of my ex bosses ended in in prison, the third and fourth were my parents in truth not only were they people I worshiped but people who I really did set and live by the highest of standards.

  • FunGunner

    Good article, Tony, and very heartfelt.

    I think that the difference between Adams’ and Terry’s cases (apart from the obvious one that JT was found not guilty) is that the crime of drink-driving is not seen to reflect your views or convictons, so it doesn’t have the same implications for the moral question of whether you are a fit person to be a role model or represent a football club. A person who has been convicted of drink driving is guilty of a wrong action – there wouldn’t normally be an inference to make that he found drink-driving and maiming people acceptable. If a person were to be convicted of using racist language, there could be an inference that that person was a racist – at some level.