Has Ferdinand withdrawn from England duty for football reasons?
Published: 03.04.13 / Written by: David Gold
Rio Ferdinand has opted to withdraw from the England squad, performing something of a u-turn following a u-turn after his call up by Roy Hodgson last week for the upcoming internationals with San Marino and Montenegro.
According to Hodgson, Ferdinand cannot play because of his fitness. “Due to the detailed pre-planned training and medical programme he must follow it's not possible”
This was the explanation given last week when Alex Ferguson suggested that Ferdinand may not be able to link up with England. The Manchester United boss was keen to show that England and Hodgson would not be able to get away with seemingly showing his defender no respect following his being dropped last year.
And it was not just that. Ferdinand was dropped in favour of an inferior defender, John Terry, because the two could not play in the same squad because of a dispute. The dispute was over Terry’s alleged racial abuse of Rio’s brother, Anton. Which, it should be noted, Terry may continue to deny, but he admits using the words attributed to him, in a defensive context, and has been punished by the Football Association for it.
So dropping Ferdinand was wrong on both football and moral reasons. Ferdinand has just cause to feel angry with Hodgson for the way he has been treated, and has conducted himself with dignity on the pitch.
Ferdinand’s explanation for withdrawing from the squad does seem rather convenient though, and possibly contrived. It would suit Hodgson, you would think, to be able to put this down to fitness issues, rather than his own poor judgment in originally favouring Terry over Ferdinand. It also suits the Manchester United defender, who has a cloak behind which to cover himself from accusations of walking out on his country.
Ferdinand spoke a good game when explaining himself. "It was important for me to be able to speak with Roy face to face and explain the situation, and one thing I made clear was that my passion and commitment to represent my country is as strong as ever.
"It is disappointing that I won't be able to play a part in the upcoming games but I told Roy that I want to continue to be available for England and I look forward to working with him in the future."
There are good reasons players do not want to represent their country. For Paul Scholes, it was the use of him on the left wing in a position he felt incapable to perform well in. Fair enough. For Jamie Carragher, it was being constantly ignored by managers. Again, fair enough, makes sense. The thing with both is that they were made on football reasons. If Ferdinand’s fitness issues are genuinely the reason for his withdrawal, then that is fair enough. But if it is to get one over on Hodgson, to pay him back so to speak, to do so with the England jersey is a bit off. Ferdinand has every reason to be angry with the manager, but to take it out on your country, who could do with a player of his class and experience, would be the wrong move.