Tag Archives: football

Anton Ferdinand, John Terry, CS Lewis and shaking hands

I’m getting pretty tired of these stories about refusing to shake hands and whether footballers should be made to shake hands. A number of thoughts cross my mind.

That Anton Ferdinand doesn’t want to shake John Terry’s hand is understandable. But why not Ashley Cole? Because he defended Terry in court? To me that makes the issue less about racist comments and more about petulance.

To offer your hand to someone who has offended you doesn’t necessarily mean you their actions are ok. CS Lewis is on the money here:

forgiving does not mean excusing. Many people seem to think it does. They think that if you ask them to forgive someone who has cheated or bullied them you are trying to make out that there was really no cheating or bullying. But if that were so, there would be nothing to forgive. (This doesn’t mean that you must necessarily believe his next promise. It does mean that you must make every effort to kill every taste of resentment in your own heart – every wish to humiliate or hurt him or to pay him out.) The difference between this situation and the one in which you are asking God’s forgiveness is this. In our own case we accept excuses too easily, in other people’s we do not accept them easily enough.

To shake hands (for me) is to begin to forgive and demonstrates the ability to break out of the cycle of tit-for-tat hatred and move above onto the plane of grace and forgiveness. To move to that plane requires more courage and to be more of a ‘man’. Ferdinand may see it as weakness. For me it requires more strength.

Respect. The whole sorry incident and the abuse that goes on with some footballers involves  a lack of respect. Bloated egos, salaries and their insecurities result in a need to destroy others and ‘put them off their game’ with words. Perhaps they should shut their mouths and let their performance on the field do the talking? The Olympics demonstrated athletes who compete against each other but can also show incredible admiration and respect for each other. I love how in rugby the teams applaud each other off the pitch. Some footballers could learn a lot.

We hear a lot of debate in football about who are the leaders on the pitch. All this silliness over handshakes is a good opportunity to find out.

And perhaps to remember that good leadership requires good character.

But perhaps the issue of insecurity and how that works out is also important. It’s hard to respect others if your identity is in the wrong place.

John Terry – time to show some real leadership

Being a Chelsea fan makes all the lurid headlines about John Terry’s misdemeanours even more difficult to take. He has been a fantastic ‘leader’ on the pitch, but the quality of that leadership is now in question. Serious questions have been asked of his conduct in recent weeks, mostly money related. From the dodgy £10,000 a pop secret tours to the super-injunction he tried in the media (guardian site) it appears to be all centred on the money. What disturbed me most about his attempted super-injunction was not that it was designed to protect his wife and two children but his reputation with his sponsors. He has already made a lot of cash from selling wedding rights and from his ‘dad of the year award’ (which definitely needs returned). I’ve heard nothing in the media about him being sorry, no apologies to his family or to Wayne Bridge. Some of the more lurid speculation about him paying for an abortion for Bridge’s then girlfriend seems to confirm a pattern that he thinks money can fix everything. Terry has a lot to learn about leadership. He maybe needs to start with one of the basics – at the core of leadership is character and trust that demonstrates itself in compassion and respect for other people. Although Ancelotti is standing by Terry as Chelsea captain it seems only a matter of time before he has to resign the England captaincy or be stripped of it. The longer he holds on the more respect he loses. The captaincy issue for me is partly about Terry’s moral leadership and also about trust and respect in the dressing room. If I was one of Terry’s team-mates I wouldn’t want him anywhere near my wife or partner, I would find it very difficult to trust him. Can such a litany of major flaws in judgement in such crucial issues really be divorced from your ability to lead a team? I think not. The England captaincy isn’t even the real issue. The real issue is does Terry have the balls to stand up and not only admit his wrongdoing, but apologise and demonstrate remorse? Does he have the ‘character’ to begin to demonstrate some elements of good leadership – a willingness to take responsibility? That will be more effective in restoring his reputation that simply hiring a PR company.  I’m willing to give him a chance, as we are all flawed, but I’m not sure if Terry even thinks he has done anything wrong, so come on John – show us what you are made of!