You’d swear he was a prostitute at the ‘sign of peace’ at the Sunday mass the way he’s treated. Anton Ferdinand, heavily embroiled in a race-row with the Chelsea captain, as well as club captain J.S. Park, refused to shake Terry’s hand prior to the game in the ever-growing farce that is the pre-game niceties in the Premier League.
Ashley Cole, who gave evidence as a character witness for Terry in the civil court case over the summer, was also snubbed by the QPR duo. Cole is now alleged to have spat on the turf in response.
Following on from the Suarez-Evra spat last season, and the subsequent refusal of the Uruguayan striker to kiss and make up with the defender he was proven to have racially abused, calls have now intensified for the pre-game handshake to be abandoned altogether. It’s not unprecedented, when QPR and Chelsea last met in April this year, prior to the court case (in which Terry was acquitted) the handshake was abandoned in an effort to avoid the controversy a refusal brings.
The FA apparently are yet to learn from the ugly scenes that marred that United-Liverpool game in Old Trafford last season, as the weekend’s events would suggest.
This weekend alone, QPR boss Mark Hughes, Villa manager Paul Lambert and pundit Alan Shearer all added their voice to the growing opposition of the ritual. Introduced only 4 years ago as part of the ‘Respect’ campaign, the handshake has truly been nothing but a stage upon which old feuds and bitterness may be relaunched from. As Shearer put it; “we never had it (the pre-game handshake) in my day... if you wanted to congratulate a player or shake his hand at the end of ninety minutes, that’s what you did, if you didn’t; you didn’t”.
Surely it makes sense now to abandon the pretence. The act itself is a sham, Wayne Rooney hardly shakes Gerrard’s hand, wishing him the utmost of luck and praying that the Liverpool midfielder has the game of his life. Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore has been quoted as claiming the handshake “says ‘whatever crap has gone on before or whatever crap will go on after this game, its over’...get on with the game”.
But its not that simple, especially when one considers that the majority of the snubbings in recent times have been due to incidents of (sometimes alleged or yet unproven) racial slurs. Others include marriage infidelities and Samir Nasri and William Gallas being petty. The majority of incidents also include Terry, naturally, but that’s slightly irrelevant.
Keep the pageantry; the teams lining up in the tunnel, the captain’s toss, the music, everything else. But its time to stop the forced sportsmanship. Its the equivalent of apologising to your younger sibling, only cos your Mammy told you to under threat of the wooden spoon. Cut the handshake, and the only snub the FA will have to deal with will be incidents like this; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8J34YiZmqeI (surprise surprise, there’s John Terry again...)