People make all sorts of allowances for people that they like or admire. Teams experience this sort of preferential treatment from their fans. It is all too common to see how fan perception changes the second a player who was once reviled suits up in your team’s uniform. However, there are times when fan support does not mean a thing. There are times when fan support seems silly, if not stupid.
Recently, John Terry, former captain of the England national team, and captain of Chelsea, has become embroiled in some very ugly accusations of racial abuse that he directed at an opposing team’s player. Terry, who is white, is accused of verbally abusing Anton Ferdinand, the brother of Rio Ferdinand. This is especially surprising considering that Terry and Rio Ferdinand played together a great deal as a central back pair for England. Fans of England and Chelsea may be able to look past such accusations, but how does Terry’s behavior affect the teammates he plays with at both the national, and international level?
As globalization increases, many black players are found representing countries and teams that have fielded historically all-white teams. Chelsea is one of the most diverse teams in England, with black players representing multiple African and European countries. How does these players feel about their captain’s possible use of racist slurs towards other black players? How do the black players that play for England, and with Terry, feel about having their captain be someone who may resort to such gross behavior?
It is important to note that the investigation into these allegations is still ongoing. Terry has not yet been found guilty of using racist language, but as a fan, regardless of team affiliation, one has to ask, “Why is he being singled out?” Every week a multitude of white players manage to get through the weekend without being accused of being racist. With so many players not dealing with these allegations, it seems fairly likely that the ones who are accused have reason to be.
Regardless of how this situation is resolved, Terry will forever be branded as a racist in some circles. Some fans may forgive him. Some teammates may even stand by him. But not me. I hate racists. I am a Liverpool fan. John Terry now occupies that sweet spot as both a racist and a Chelsea player. I am no fan of his.