Anton Ferdinand still needs support beyond the FA’s verdict
John Terry clings to the comfort blanket of victimhood. Ashley Cole is somehow deemed fit to represent his country. Who, apart from those associated with Queens Park Rangers, spares a thought for Anton Ferdinand, the man who has suffered most from football’s double standards?
A hard, often brutal game breeds natural survivors, but Ferdinand is beginning to succumb to the unnatural strains of his situation. His palsied performance in Queens Park Rangers’ defeat at the Hawthorns at the weekend owed more to the climate of retribution into which he has been pitched, than his lack of match fitness after a hamstring injury.
West Bromwich Albion is an admirable, progressive club, but a significant minority of their fans were a disgrace. Ferdinand was booed and derided throughout the game, and was responsible for two of Albion’s three goals in a loss that adds to the angst at QPR.
It is doubtful that a reminder of the verdict, reached by the FA’s independent panel in the Terry case, will stir the conscience of those who joined in the ritual abuse on Saturday. But, given that the game needs all the perspective it can get at the moment, it bears repeating.
The commission stated: “The victim impact statement of Mr Ferdinand makes it plain that he has been badly affected by the incident. He has been the subject of hateful abuse and adverse comments, but has acted with restraint and dignity.”
Mark Hughes, the QPR manager, could do more, publicly, to redress the balance. He was merely being pragmatic when he suggested that Ferdinand has “got to be big enough to handle” the abuse he is likely to receive in away matches. He needed to be passionate.
This is not one of those “big boys don’t cry” moments which are ingrained in a professional footballer’s psyche. What Ferdinand is enduring is a challenge to common decency. He needs more people to follow the lead of his defensive partner Ryan Nelsen, who spoke in his defence on Saturday night.
Let’s not doubt Ferdinand’s mental strength. He has had to develop his career in the daunting shadow of his elder brother, Rio. He overcame the mortifying experience of missing the decisive penalty for West Ham in the 2006 FA Cup Final against Liverpool.
But he should not be left alone to fight his own battles.