Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “He phoned me to warn me about the publication and my response was â€˜Yes, and?â€™ If he has gone to a brothel it is no oneâ€™s business. Heâ€™s the Portsmouth manager and itâ€™s a tough job,â€ she said. â€œHe needs a massage not from one woman but two. Morning and night. Heâ€™s a great manager with amazing potential who is stuck in a s****y team. He owes no one any explanation and the fact he chose to have a massage doesnâ€™t make it a brothel. If he had a good time there as well, thatâ€™s cool. It was in broad daylight and he walked in there wearing a Portsmouth tracksuit and came out of there smiling because he had nothing to hide. Do you think he would have done that if that was a brothel? I only feel sorry for the women involved . . . Iâ€™m not cross with him about this kind of rubbish but only about one thing â€” and I told him that. Iâ€™m cross that he doesnâ€™t start every morning and end every night with a massage.” – Tzofit Grant, wife of Avram.
Runner-up: “The Court of Arbitration for Sport has issued an award today ratifying the agreement reached by Chelsea FC, Racing Club de Lens and the French football player, GaÃ«l Kakuta, putting an end to this arbitration procedure which also involved Fifa. The CAS has noted that, in the agreement, the two clubs and the player have recognised that the contract between the player and RC Lens was not valid. Accordingly, the player could not have terminated it prematurely and without just cause and FC Chelsea cannot therefore be liable for inducing a breach of contract. As a consequence, in light of these new circumstances, the sanctions imposed upon Chelsea FC and the player by the Fifa Dispute Resolution Chamber had to be lifted.” – Statement from the Court of Arbitration for sport.
Today’s overview: Fabio Capello’s arrival in England yesterday and his meeting later today with England captain John Terry has focused attention on the decision the Italian will have to make.
Incredibly, the Daily Mail have emerged with a new John Terry misdemeanour. “John Terry faced new questions last night over his fitness to be England captain. A Daily Mail investigation found his personal box at Wembley being ‘touted out’ for Â£4,000 a match. Terry’s contract to rent the luxurious 12-seater facility is subsidised to the tune of tens of thousands a year as one of his ‘perks’ as national team skipper. Its terms expressly forbid hiring it out. But yesterday the Mail was offered exclusive use of it for England’s friendly against Egypt next month by an associate of Terry’s management agents.”
Matt Lawton then sticks the knife into the Chelsea defender. “Now John Terry really has some explaining to do. When he meets Fabio Capello today, the conversation will not just concern an England team-mateâ€™s estranged partner but the legally binding contract he agreed with the FA when he became a Wembley box holder. As the Daily Mailâ€™s investigation reveals, Terryâ€™s 12-seat box is available to anyone who has Â£4,000 and wants to watch England or their favourite rock band. Selling it on is strictly prohibited, but this newspaper was offered the box in exchange for a cash payment to Terryâ€™s management company. This is so much more serious than the sordid revelations Terry and his representatives tried to keep out of the public domain because this concerns what looks like a breach of trust between the England captain and the organisation he represents. He is given a major discount on the box in recognition of his status. Not, as Capello will now fear, to make money.”
With Fabio Capello back in Blighty, today the Italian manager is set to meet with John Terry. Oliver Kay reports: “Fabio Capello will put John Terry under a gruelling cross-examination this afternoon and ask the Chelsea defender to convince him that he should remain as England captain. Terry has been under increasing pressure to stand down and while it is possible that a decision could be reached to remove him from the captaincy, he may gain a reprieve at todayâ€™s meeting â€” at least until Sunday, when a series of fresh revelations about his private life are feared. The England manager remains open to the idea of retaining Terry as captain for this summerâ€™s World Cup finals, but will question him not only about his affair with Vanessa Perroncel, the former partner of Wayne Bridge, his England team-mate, but also on several unsubstantiated rumours about his private life.”
The Sun get the ball rolling on “JT Decision Day” with their “exclusive” that “Fabio Capello is still planning to include betrayed England star Wayne Bridge in his World Cup squad. Bridge’s future looked in doubt following revelations that Three Lions skipper John Terry had an affair with the full-back’s ex partner. The prospect of the pair playing in the same side looked bleak. But Capello, who meets Terry today, has no intentions of dumping the Manchester City star as he provides vital cover for first choice full-back Ashley Cole.”
Sam Wallace adds that Bridge is disappointed that he doesn’t get his own showdown talks with Capello. “Those close to Bridge say that he would welcome the chance to have his say on the Terry-Perroncel saga with Capello. As the second-choice left-back, however, he is realistic and recognises that he is not the first consideration as Capello tries to solve the first major crisis of his reign as England manager. Bridge has made no firm decisions yet on whether he plans to retire from international football.”
Steven Howard calls for a quick decision from Don Fabio. “The decision on Terry has to be taken quickly if it is not to further damage the confidence and unity of a squad Capello has worked so assiduously to build. If he dithers by, say, delaying any decision until the friendly against Egypt on March 3 then he runs the serious risk of damaging his own reputation. His decision to off-load his captain has to be taken in the next few days. We certainly cannot arrive at the scenario where Wayne Bridge and Manchester City arrive at Stamford Bridge on February 27 with the whole subject still up for debate.”
Kevin McCarra predicts that Capello will stand by his Three Lions captain. “There is something quaint about the John Terry furore. It could only be addressed, we were told, once Fabio Capello got back to Blighty. Nobody explained why it was impossible for him to take Âsoundings before his return to London. Perhaps the England manager feared making a decision while his mind was still clouded by the anaesthetic required for knee surgery in Switzerland. Maybe he just couldn’t be bothered adding the +44 to all the contacts in his mobile that he wanted to consult. The delay is far more likely to be tactical. Human beings have a tendency towards prurience, but attention soon wanders on to the next scandal.”
Oliver Kay also calls for Capello to stand “firm.” “For me, it still needs a tipping point if Terryâ€™s position is to be rendered as â€œuntenableâ€ as it is regarded by some. Maybe this Sundayâ€™s News of the World will bring it, but if Mrs Terry, the real victim of all of this, is willing to stand by her man, who is to say that Capello would be wrong to do likewise?”
Former England manager Terry Venables argues that Capello doesn’t have to axe Terry. “If Terry does manage to keep the job, he will be a lucky man. He will certainly be drinking in the last-chance saloon. Yet Capello may have to acknowledge he is the best skipper England has. Even if it goes against all of the Italian’s principles.”
In one of the stand out articles of the day, Tom Kington brings the Italian view on the Terry scandal. “Italian sports journalists struggled to stifle their laughter this week as they followed the John Terry affair, and sought to explain why England is dumping questions about leadership and extramarital affairs in the lap of an Italian. ‘This is one for the history books,’ said Il Giornale, smirking. ‘Who would have thought of asking one of us to become the moral authority in such a delicate question?'”
Kevin Garside bucks the trend today and urges Capello to dismiss Terry as England captain. “To sack or not to sack? If only that were an end to it. The Terry scandal has escalated way beyond his stuitability for the office of England captain. It has become the symbol of a wider malaise. Across the football landscape a squalid picture unfolds. Players empowered by wealth and celebrity wander in a perpetual state of moral lawlessness helping themselves to whatever they fancy.”
Spurs boss Harry Redknapp urges footballers to behave but accepts it is unlikely to happen with all of them. “In the main, players are working class lads who, because of their talent, have fantastic lifestyles. I can honestly say 99 per cent of the footballers I have worked with, or come across, are great lads, terrific people. When you look at how many pros there are, the number who hit the headlines for the wrong reasons is very small. Will it ever reach zero? Somehow I don’t think so.”
With all the hulabaloo over the Chelsea captain, yesterday’s CAS ruling on Gael Kakuta has been barely mentioned. Gabriele Marcotti questions the decision. “The judgment does not determine whether there was any wrongdoing. It simply states that, because the parties are now in agreement, there is no point in proceeding farther. Except there is a point and it is one of legal precedent. If, as the judgment reads, Lens recognise that their contract with Kakuta (which was the basis of their complaint) had no validity, why did they report Chelsea to Fifa in the first place? And why did Fifaâ€™s Dispute Resolution Chamber rule that it was a valid contract?”
Nick Harris questions FIFA’s role in the Kakuta affair. “Could it be that Chelsea knew there was a theoretical risk of losing their appeal at the CAS, and being banned, and therefore a million quid was a quick way to make it go away? Chelsea insist not, saying they were on solid appeal grounds. What about Lens, a club that insisted until recently that Kakuta had a contract that would stand up? They now seem less sure. Could it be that they suddenly realised their contract wasn’t worth the paper it was written on? And realised they might lose at the CAS? And so took the money and ran, even though they originally wanted about five times as much? And what about Fifa â€“did it get it wrong? The arbitration process means we’ll never know. But it sends no deterrent message to be careful about who has a binding contract or not.”
John Terry is not the only football personality on the front pages, The Sun release video footage of Avram Grant visiting “the grubby vice den.”
Kevin Eason wades into the mess at Portsmouth. “Peter Storrie, the chief executive, is facing accusations of tax evasion; Avram Grant, the manager, is reportedly facing questions as a witness by police investigating a â€œmassage parlourâ€ he visited in December; Harry Redknapp, the former manager, is facing charges for tax fraud; Milan Mandaric, a former owner, is facing tax evasion charges; Daniel Azougy, a key adviser to al-Faraj, is a convicted fraudster, while al-Faraj, the billionaire saviour that never was, did not once turn up at Fratton Park to see the team he owned. And Portsmouth are bottom of the Barclays Premier League with little hope of salvation from relegation. The Portsmouth fan contemplating yesterday writing a novel based on the clubâ€™s woes should rip up his manuscript â€” nobody could believe a story this far-fetched.”
Ahead of the Merseyside derby tomorrow, Steven Pienaar tells of his childhood experiences in South Africa. “What can I say about Westbury?â€™ he mused, shaking his head. â€˜There were some rough areas in and around Johannesburg, but it had to be one of the roughest. It is hard to describe just how bad it was, because gang violence, drug dealing and shootings were everywhere.â€˜One thing that sticks in my mind is watching television sitting on the floor. We had a couch, but I wasnâ€™t allowed on it, because you never knew when a bullet was going to come flying in through the window.”
In today’s slim pickings of transfer gossip we learn in The SunÂ that AC Milan are after Nemanja VidicÂ with Klaas Jan Huntelaar heading to Old Trafford in return,Â Arsenal are still interested in Loic Remy and Roberto Mancini will return for Fernando Gago in the summer.Â
Finally, The Guardian have Small Talk with Wolves legend Steve Bull. “But Steve, according to your Wikipedia page, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Ajax, PSG, Internazionale, Manchester United, Liverpool, Rangers, Lazio, Boca Juniors, Juventus and Genoa all tried to buy you. Did no one tell you? No. Actually I didn’t know about all them. I knew Torino and Newcastle, and Celtic and Coventry. But only those four.”