Sol Campbell has accused the Football Association of a ‘cover-up’ over Rio Ferdinand’s omission from the England squad.
Chelsea defender Gary Cahill suffered a double-fracture to his jaw in the final warm-up game with Belgium at Wembley on Saturday, leaving the door open for Rio Ferdinand, but he was snubbed for the second time by manager Roy Hodgson in favour of Liverpool youngster Martin Kelly.
Ferdinand’s representative, Jamie Moralee, accused the England manager of a ‘total lack of respect’ and Campbell, who says he has experienced the FA’s ‘inability to treat players properly’ first hand, says that he never bought into the philosophy that Ferdinand had been left out due to ‘footballing reasons’.
“The further this saga drags on the more it does not make sense and the more it undermines Roy Hodgson and the Football Association as a whole,” Campbell wrote in his column for The Guardian.
“We have now reached a point where big questions have to be asked over Rio Ferdinand’s exclusion from England’s squad for Euro 2012, such as what are the real reasons, and why?
“And, is there a cover-up?
“What we can say for sure is that this entire situation goes back to what did or did not happen between John Terry and Anton Ferdinand last season.
“That is the only logical conclusion that can be drawn and I for one never bought the argument that Rio had been left out of the original squad for ‘footballing reasons’,” he said.
Campbell did, however, empathise with under-pressure Hodgson but insisted his reasons for excluding the in-form United defender made no sense and that Ferdinand, who has won 81 caps for England, would have added invaluable experience in the dressing room.
He also claimed that a bigger organisation would hold their hands up and apologise, but the FA’s continued silence indicates that they do not want to do anything about the situation and that Terry and Ferdinand could still have played together, despite Terry standing trial for allegedly racially abusing Ferdinand’s brother Anton.
“The argument that it simply would have been impossible to have had both Rio and John Terry in the squad for Euro 2012 is again something I do not buy,” he went on.
“These guys are professionals who want to play for their country and despite any ill-feeling that may exist between them off the pitch, on it they would have just got on with it and played.
“I would definitely have picked them both – they’re in form and would give the team a level of experience which is vital at a major tournament.
“Their names should have been the first ones down on the list and then it should have been up to the younger guys to fight it out among themselves for the other positions.
“At the very least Rio should have been given the opportunity to say, ‘No, I don’t want to be in the same squad as John Terry.’
“Hodgson should have spoken to him man-to-man, face-to-face, eyeball-to-eyeball and seen where he was at, seen if he felt capable of contributing to the team and being around Terry for the next three weeks.
“Given everything Rio has done for his country, and how he has been playing for United in recent months, he deserved that at least.”
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