Principles are worth more than handshake

BILLY HARRIS
Last updated 05:00 23/09/2012
John Terry and Anton Ferdinand
Getty Images
SNUB: Anton Ferdinand walks past John Terry during the pre-match handshake.

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OPINION: People shake hands to show respect, friendship, forgiveness or good will. When a person feels none of these things for another, should he be obliged to shake his hand?

Anton Ferdinand of QPR clearly thought not when he came face to face with John Terry and chose to ignore him in the pre-match handshaking charade which Fifa has foisted on the game. Just like the Olympic oath which is read before the Olympic Games, the handshake ritual is nonsense. The players portray themselves as men of honour and, when the match begins, prove to be cheats and scoundrels. Especially, John Terry.

Had Ferdinand shaken Terry's hand, it would have suggested he forgave Terry for his racial abuse, which, in the absence of a sincere apology, he's not ready to do.

If Ferdinand hates Terry so much, wondered a respected radio host, why play against him? Why not withdraw from the match?

What, and let Terry win again?

Ferdinand, a key player, knows that to pull out would be to let his team-mates down enormously.

Ferdinand had to play against Terry. But he doesn't have to respect him.

The QPR-Chelsea match was also notable for the performance of Ryan Nelsen, who helped keep Chelsea's feared attack scoreless. Nelsen marked John Terry at set-pieces and, on one occasion, employed what looked like a sleeper hold to restrain him. The jostling in penalty boxes at set-piece time has evolved, thanks to the leniency of referees, to a point where the "marking" looks more like wrestling. Occasionally a referee will remember the rules and award a penalty, at which point the dumbfounded defender will say “But . . . but that's what we always do."

Nelsen, a defender whose physical strength is a key component of his game, claimed later that "anyone who understands the game knows that's never a penalty", and the commentator agreed, saying "that's not a penalty. Six of one, half a dozen of the other".

Perhaps, there's room for compromise. When playing for QPR, it's a penalty. When playing for the All Whites, it's not.

Roman Abramovich had just taken over at Chelsea and they were going crazy in the transfer market. They were buying, or rumoured to be buying, every player in the Premier League. When questioned about the club's next transfer target, Abramovich replied: “While it's true that every player is on our radar, we'd like to state categorically that we have no interest in Emile Heskey.”

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That's the sort of unkind joke that's been made about the striker who has just signed for Newcastle Jets in the A League. The quips are based on Heskey's poor strike rate - just seven goals in 62 matches for England - but the reality is that Heskey is an excellent target man who was picked by five separate England managers and who, at just 34, should do a great job for the Jets.

Billy Harris is a former All White

- Sunday Star Times

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