John Terry was removed as England captain on Friday as he awaits trial for racial abuse, but the Chelsea defender will remain eligible to play for the national team at the European Championship.
The English Football Association said the Chelsea defender would be stripped of the captaincy “until the allegations against him are resolved.” Terry faces trial in July on charges of racially abusing Queens Park defender Anton Ferdinand during a Premier League match in October.
“(The board) collectively decided it is in the interests of all parties that John has the responsibilities of captaincy removed at this time,” the FA said. “This decision has been taken due to the higher-profile nature of the England captaincy, on and off the pitch, and the additional demands and requirements expected of the captain leading into and during a tournament. “The FA board can confirm that he has not been excluded from the squad.”
England coach Fabio Capello was not consulted about the decision, unlike in 2010 when Terry lost the captaincy ahead of the World Cup over allegations he had an affair with the former girlfriend of England teammate Wayne Bridge.
After Terry was accused of abusing Ferdinand, Capello and the FA said at the time that he could continue as captain because he was “innocent until proven guilty.” But Capello and the FA had expected the 31-year-old Terry’s trial would take place before the European Championship in Ukraine and Poland.
A judge on Wednesday, however, delayed the trial until July 9, a week after the Euro 2012 final, after Chelsea said it would be difficult for players to testify during the Premier League season.
“This decision (to sack Terry) in no way infers any suggestion of guilt in relation to the charge made against John Terry,” the FA said. Although Terry has lost the England captaincy, Chelsea said he will continue to captain the Premier League club. “It was the FA’s decision,” Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas said on Friday. “I don’t agree with it. John will continue as Chelsea captain.”
The British government backed the FA’s decision. “It would have been impossible for John Terry to have continued as captain with this charge over his head,” Sports Minister Hugh Robertson said.
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard is now in line to take over as England captain. Vice-captain Rio Ferdinand said Friday he does not want the job again after being dropped from the role by Capello last year.
“I don’t want to be England captain after the last episode, just want to concentrate on playin(g) for utd,” the Manchester United defender wrote on Twitter. “If I make the squad then as ever I’ll be delighted.”