In its desire to avoid a repeat of controversy surrounding John Terry and the England captaincy, the Football Association has decided the best approach is to introduce a code of conduct for players called up to represent their country.
The English cricket team have gone down that road, Craig Levein’s Scotland are about to, and ahead of England’s forthcoming World Cup qualification campaign for Brazil 2014, the FA will draw one up.
The new England boss will be involved in a process which will mean every person selected for the national squad will know exactly what is expected of them, both on and off the pitch.
The FA board removed the captaincy from Terry last week following the decision to adjourn the court case into allegations he racially abused Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand – a charge Terry denies – until after the Euro 2012 tournament.
One former England international who believes the FA should have clear guidelines for players is Gary Neville.
Neville was infamously at the centre of talks between England players over a potential strike due to Rio Ferdinand’s suspension for missing a drugs test before a Euro 2004 qualifier against Turkey.
“After the threat of strike action in 2004, I attended an international board meeting with the PFA’s Brendon Batson and soon after the FA’s policy changed,” said Neville, who believes removing the captaincy from Terry went against the association’s own guidelines.
“They (the FA) let due process take its course when a player was charged with an offence. But because racism is now such a sensitive issue, they have now bypassed that and written a new rule.
“Everyone should deplore racism, but how are we to judge which offences justify removal of the captain’s armband or expulsion from the squad?
“Drink-driving is serious, but would it be okay if you got caught but had not killed anyone? What about assault? Is it okay if you hit someone just because a percentage of men may have done so at some point in their lives? Would we let due process run in those cases but not in John Terry’s?
“I’m not in favour of it, but if the FA introduced a rule that anyone charged with a criminal offence could not play for England until their case had been resolved – even if it involved one of England’s best players – at least everyone would know where they stand.”
The FA will meet players and their representatives, the PFA, along with Fabio Capello’s successor ahead of Euro 2012 to seek agreement on a set of rules that squad members must adhere to if they are to retain their places in the England set-up.
The model they’ll be basing their code of conduct on is the England cricket team, who agree to a set of rules at the beginning of each tour. The cricketers’ code clarifies what is expected on England duty, and also the possible punishments for breaking those rules.
The code will decide, for example, whether players on bail for criminal offences will be eligible to play for England, if players found guilty of criminal
charges can play, and if players facing a charge from the FA’s own disciplinary process can be selected.
Other off-field matters which are likely to be addressed will be the use of social network sites, and rules regarding their use. Respecting fellow professionals is likely to be the cornerstone of the posting on sites such as Twitter.
Tags: Brazil 2014, Code of Conduct, England, Euro 2012, Fabio Capello, Gary Neville, John Terry, RESPECT, World Cup