The most alarming material from the extracts of Rio Ferdinanda��s new autobiography is not the headline inferno about the two racism cases that scarred football in recent years: John Terrya��s an a�?idiota�? and his shock over Luis Suareza��s abuse of Patrice Evra.
What is more troubling is Ferdinanda��s view on modern Britain where he feels that a�?racism has never actually gone away, it was just much better hidden than beforea�?.
As a window on modern Britain, the bigger picture described by Ferdinand is even more concerning than the individual grubby stains on the pane left by Terry and Suarez. Terry was acquitted in court of racist intent when making an on-field comment to Ferdinanda��s brother, Anton, but found guilty by the FA and banned for four matches.
Suarez was suspended for eight games by the FA after being found guilty of making a racist remark to Evra,
Ferdinanda��s then Manchester United team-mate. How weak those punishments were.
The focus is on the personal in the headlines in the Sun on Sunday, which is serialising a�?#2Sidesa�?, Ferdinanda��s book ghosted by the highly respected writer David Winner. The focus is on Ferdinanda��s anger at Terry and Ashley Cole, his previously close friend who gave evidence in support of Terry against Anton Ferdinand. Important issues then go unexplored, particularly relating to the conduct of clubs and the meekness of the authorities, let alone deeper issues in society.
Ferdinand writes that he sent Cole a text asking why he was going to court. He claims Cole replied that a�?Ia��ve been told Ia��ve got to goa�?, presumably by Terrya��s lawyers and also by Chelsea.
Ferdinand also criticises Liverpool over their handling of the Suarez incident, saying that a�?it left a bad tastea�? and that the club a�?got right and wrong mixed upa�?.
The fire raged more on social media. People abandoned the principle of tolerance because they were consumed by club tribalism. Ferdinand himself got carried away on the frothing cyber-wave by retweeting an offensive post about Cole. Nobody really stopped to think in the perfect storm of club allegiances and febrile social-media platforms.
This is where Ferdinanda��s book could be truly enlightening in casting a painful spotlight on issues in society and on football clubsa�� intolerance to anything that runs against their interests. Ferdinand writes that he was a�?shocked at the pity for Suareza�?.
Liverpool, in fairness, eventually showed some contrition, and certainly acted more intelligently in the wake of Suareza��s next offence, the bite on Branislav Ivanovic, but the lesson that needs learning from Suarez-Evra is that clubs have to be less blinkered.
It would have been fascinating to know whether Ferdinand feels the Premier League and the FA should have been stronger with Liverpool, reminding them of the damage they were doing to footballa��s reputation as well as their own. Chelsea hardly covered themselves in glory in their handling of Terry-Anton Ferdinand. They forgot their responsibility to the game.
The authorities also let the game down. An FA with better leadership, and a Premier League less in thrall to club owners, should have intervened, making all parties see sense. Sadly, self-interest ruled. As ever with football, the game is held back by a myriad agendas.
As ever in the mad, unthinking world of football, the focus comes down to the personal, not the principle. Terry and Cole do not come out of Ferdinanda��s book well, but that was inevitable.
More frightening were the problems exposed in society, the racism endured by the Ferdinands in their fight for justice. Their mother suffered stress after receiving bullets through the post and offensive messages.
Terrya��s comment ended up damaging a�?race relationsa�?, in the words of Ferdinand, partly because of the broad response to the original comment. How can those a�?race relationsa�? be improved? These are serious issues rather more than important than a�?Terrya��s an idiota�?.
The FA moved far too slowly, a very legitimate point made by Ferdinand with his remark of a�?they passed the buck for almost a yeara�?, allowing the situation to fester. Ferdinand was brought into the FA to help the chairman, Greg Dyke, improve Englanda��s long-term future through youth development.
Instead of his lengthy, badly executed, swiftly discredited Commission, Dyke could have written down the obvious remedies, including more investment in grass-roots coaching and facilities, more skills coaching, tightening work-permits, setting up avenues for young English players to play overseas and getting Government to tackle childhood obesity properly.
Dyke could have set those plans in motion through varying parts of the FA. He could then have got Ferdinand on to the FA board, addressing broader defects, including encouraging greater inclusivity, and giving the board-room some of the outlook of the dressing-room.
Footballers like Ferdinand should be allowed to help shape the direction of the game they know and love.
The perception of Ferdinanda��s book will be that he is simply settling old scores, notably with Terry and Cole, yet there is a far wiser side to Ferdinanda��s character. I bumped into the QPR defender at Harlington last Wednesday, and spent 40 minutes debating the gamea��s many problems. Ferdinand has much more to offer the game than a�?Terrya��s an idiota�?. Everyone in football needs to raise the level of debate. – The Telegraph