Anton plays down Rio’s exile

2012-06-07 12:20

London – Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand has refused to add his voice to the growing protest against older brother Rio’s omission from England’s Euro 2012 squad.

England manager Roy Hodgson insisted he left Manchester United centre back Rio Ferdinand out of his original squad for the tournament solely for “football reasons”.

But there has been intense speculation the 33-year-old’s absence was due to the presence in the squad of his regular England central defensive colleague, John Terry.

Chelsea Captain Terry will stand trial in July on charges of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand during a match against QPR in October and many reports said Hodgson was keen not to select Rio to avoid a potential dressing room rift over the issue.

Ferdinand reacted angrily on Sunday when he learned he had been overlooked again by Hodgson, who called up Liverpool’s inexperienced Martin Kelly instead of the United centre back after Gary Cahill was forced to withdraw from the squad with a fractured jaw.

However, he has promised to support England in the tournament and Anton, speaking to ITV’s Daybreak breakfast television programme, said Thursday: “Things happen in football.

It’s a game of ups and downs. I am sure he’d like to be there, but sadly it didn’t happen this time.

“But we move on and, like he said, he’s going to follow them from somewhere else and, as a family and as a community, we’re going to do that.”

Football Association chairperson David Bernstein is determined not to let the controversy overshadow England’s participation in the tournament – hence his decision to strip Terry of the England captaincy, which in turn prompted the resignation of then manager Fabio Capello.

“We’re here to talk about the tournament, about the 23 players who are here and I’m not prepared to discuss – at all – any players who are not here,” Bernstein said as the squad arrived in Krakow today.

“It might be an issue – but it’s an issue I’m happy to talk about when the tournament is over maybe. We are here to talk about the tournament and about the future, and that’s it. We all want to maximise our chances of doing well and we believe the focus is on what’s ahead of us – not what is behind us.

“We’d hope you would join us in that, looking forward to do the very best we can with positive thoughts and not dwelling on all these sorts of, what are now frankly, historical, extraneous issues.”

Jamie Moralee, Rio Ferdinand’s longtime friend and business partner, accused Hodgson of “a total lack of respect”, while Ferdinand himself tweeted “What reasons?????!!!” in a clear reference to the England manager’s attempt to dismiss the issue.

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