Ashley Cole, a star of the English national team, tweeted this out today, in reference to the ruling to ban John Terry, who Cole defended in testimony to the Football Association.
The hashtag "fa" refers to the Football Association, which is the governing body for football in England. The FA oversees the game and has particular control over the English national team, and is responsible for doling out punishments to players when needed. This morning, the FA issued a 63-page report on the John Terry racism ruling, after finding the Chelsea and England center back guilty of using a racial slur against Queens Park Rangers player Anton Ferdinand last season and banning him for four games.
The Terry story is a convoluted one, but that speaks to the general insanity that is English football. Terry was brought to court this summer to face criminal charges for the alleged abuse, but was cleared after a lengthy trial in which many players, including Chelsea teammate Ashley Cole, submitted testimony. After the verdict of the criminal trial, the FA decided to levy disciplinary charges against Terry, which resulted in his four-match ban and €276,000 fine. In the report issued this morning, the FA declares that Terry's defense was "implausible and contrived," and that Ashley Cole's testimony "evolved" over time.
Terry is alleged to have called Ferdinand a "fucking black cunt" during a game. According to The Guardian, Cole originally told the FA he "heard the word 'cunt' being used in close proximity to a 'b-word,'" but he didn't think that Terry said the word "black," specifically, and that it could have been "bridge." (Or bologna, or Bastian Schweinsteiger, or books!)
A few days after making the statement to the FA, a Chelsea secretary requested that Cole's statement be altered to include the word "black," but the change wasn't reviewed as new evidence by the Chief Magistrate in the criminal trial -- because the FA lost the evidence. Now, The FA, in their ruling to ban Terry now, labels Cole's dubious change as a chief reason for the guilty verdict.
So, after being effectively labeled a liar, Cole calls the people who run his national team "a bunch of twats," and doesn't manage to delete the tweet until it's been retweeted almost 20,000 times. There now seems to be some real concern in England over whether or not Cole — one of the best fullbacks in the world — may have just flushed his international career down the drain. Lost in the chaos is Ferdinand himself, the victim of the abuse, or any plan to effectively eradicate racism from the game.
In review: A player was racially abused, and that's a serious crime. The abuser, Terry, got off relatively easily, with the help of some questionable testimony from his teammate, Cole (who has been subject to racial abuse throughout his career, as well). Terry, a former team captain, then retired from international competition after calling his place on the team "untenable" given his relationship with the FA, and now Cole -- the lone bright spot in a shoddy England defense -- may have just landed himself in the same situation. And the FA bungled their own investigation into what Terry did or did not say.
What happens next with Cole is still unclear, but that shouldn't be the point in a case about racism. Losing Cole would be a huge blow to the national team, and if anything, would cause many to vilify Ferdinand, who is undeniably the victim of the whole situation. And instead of a conversation about how to end racism in football, the press and fans in England will be talking about how to plug the holes that Terry and Cole (hypothetically) have left, with the next World Cup less than two years away.
Cole has since apologized for a tweet sent "in the heat of the moment," and for the time being, Cole's twitter bio still reads "Chelsea FC and England Leftback," but who knows whether it will remain that way in the coming months. England is a bizarre place. God save the Queen.