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05 March 2024

Neville wants FA guidelines over criminal offences


Former Manchester United star Gary Neville wants the English Football Association to lay out clear guidelines over the sanctions players will face if they are charged with criminal offences.

Neville's former international colleague John Terry was stripped of the England captaincy by the FA board on Friday even though coach Fabio Capello was willing to keep faith with the Chelsea defender, who is due in court in July to face a charge of racially aggravated abuse.

Terry denies the charge that he shouted racist abuse at QPR defender Anton Ferdinand and Neville believes the FA have bowed to public pressure rather than acting in the best interests of the England team.

Neville -- who was involved in talks between England players over a potential strike due to Rio Ferdinand's suspension for missing a drugs test before a Euro 2004 qualifier against Turkey -- claims the FA's own rules call for due process to run its course before any action was taken.

He believes removing the captaincy from Terry went against the association's own guidelines and he wants them to stick to a clear set of rules in the future.

"After the threat of strike action in 2004, I attended an international board meeting with the PFA's Brendon Batson and soon after the FA's policy changed," Neville wrote in the Mail on Sunday.

"They let due process takes its course when a player was charged with an offence. But because racism is now such a sensitive issue, they have now bypassed that and written a new rule.

"Everyone should deplore racism, but how are we to judge which offences justify removal of the captain's armband or expulsion from the squad?

"Drink-driving is serious, but would it be okay if you got caught but had not killed anyone? What about assault? Is it okay if you hit someone just because a percentage of men may have done so at some point in their lives? Would we let due process run in those cases but not in John Terry's?"

"I'm not in favour of it, but if the FA introduced a rule that anyone charged with a criminal offence could not play for England until their case had been resolved - even if it involved one of England's best players - at least everyone would know where they stand."