FA stays silent over Ferdinand snub
Football Association chairman David Bernstein has refused to discuss the absence of Rio Ferdinand at the Euro 2012 finals, claiming England did not want to get sidetracked by “historical extraneous issues”.
Ferdinand’s absence from the 23-man squad that flew into Krakow last night has been a major talking point since manager Roy Hodgson chose to replace injured defender Gary Cahill with Liverpool youngster Martin Kelly on Sunday.
The move prompted a vicious reaction from the Ferdinand camp who believe, like many others, that the 33-year-old’s omission had nothing to do with “football reasons” as Hodgson previously stated, and everything to do with worries about how the defender would interact with John Terry.
Hodgson is yet to speak about the matter, and there are no plans for him to talk to the media until the weekend. Instead, on a walk around Krakow’s attractive main square a couple of hours after arrival, Bernstein rebuffed repeated questions and seemed to sweep Ferdinand’s 81-cap career away.
“We’re here to talk about the tournament, about the 23 players who are here and I’m not prepared to discuss – at all – any players who are not here,” he said. “It might be an issue – but it’s an issue I’m happy to talk about when the tournament is over maybe.
“We are here to talk about the tournament and about the future and that’s it. We all want to maximise our chances of doing well and we want to focus on what’s ahead of us – not what is behind us. We’d hope you would join us in that, looking forward to do the very best we can with positive thoughts and not dwelling on all these sort of what are now frankly historical, extraneous issues.”
As Bernstein sat next to Hodgson on the flight from Luton, it must be assumed the pair were in agreement over how to handle the Ferdinand issue. Yet the problem is nothing to do with Ferdinand’s absence, more the reasons given for it, and a feeling the defender is suffering from a situation that does not involve him. The ongoing row, which has drawn in comment from so many angles, has cast a shadow over England’s arrival in Krakow.
Having opted for a city centre location, the FA must presumably have expected the huge numbers who turned out to herald the team’s arrival, a significant number of whom were still present three hours later. Indeed, the barricades at each end of the road may be preventing traffic from driving directly outside England’s hotel but interested observers will never be far away given the number of cafes within close proximity, which the players are going to be free to use.
Whether Wayne Rooney could complete such an activity unmolested is open to debate. For others though, including Kelly, it is an option.
“We’ve gone into previous tournaments with high expectations and things haven’t worked out,” said Bernstein. “Today we are in a balanced position and the squad are feeling confident. Training has gone well and the build up has been really excellent. Our manager has only been on board a short time but I believe he has done a really good job.”
Results-wise, that is not too far wide of the mark after successive single-goal victories over Norway and Belgium. However, the spectre of Ferdinand lingers, and will continue to do so until the matter is addressed, with Bernstein declaring the subject off limits. “As far as I’m concerned, definitely,” he replied to that very question. “I am sure he (Hodgson) can speak for himself, but I imagine you’ll get the same answer.”