Sol Campbell: Rio Ferdinand should have had chance to turn England down
I for one never bought the argument that Rio Ferdinand had been left out of the original squad for 'footballing reasons'
The England manager, Roy Hodgson, said Rio Ferdinand was left out for 'footballing reasons.' Photograph: Laurence Griffiths - The Fa/The FA via Getty Images
The further this saga drags on the more it does not make sense and the more it undermines Roy Hodgson and the Football Association as a whole. We have now reached a point where big questions have to be asked over Rio Ferdinand's exclusion from England's squad for Euro 2012, such as what are the real reasons, and why? And, is there a cover-up?
What we can say for sure is that this entire situation goes back to what did or did not happen between John Terry and Anton Ferdinand last season. That is the only logical conclusion that can be drawn and I for one never bought the argument that Rio had been left out of the original squad for "footballing reasons".
In fairness to Hodgson, he was put in a difficult situation, and we don't know what pressures he may have been under, but his reasons for picking who he did simply made no sense – Rio had played great for Manchester United at the back-end of the season and was a key reason why they finished second in the Premier League and missed out on the title on goal difference alone. He is clearly in top shape and in top form and deserved his England place as much as anyone else.
Hodgson also said he wanted to involve more younger players in the squad in order for them to get tournament experience, but surely it would only have benefited them to have had Rio around, someone who has played at World Cups and, in 2002, was one of the stars of the show. Even as the 23rd man he could have been a key asset to the side and passed on his experience and know-how to the new guys during training and in and around the hotel, something they would have found invaluable.
Indeed Phil Jones is learning from Rio at club level right now, but yet at national level he has been selected above him. The situation is nuts and will look even more so should England collect any further injuries in defence.
The FA now find themselves between a rock and a hard place and the only way they can truly resolve the situation is to come out and admit they've made a mistake. But their continued silence suggests that they do not want to do anything about this, they do not want to be humble and say "sorry, we messed up". That is what a bigger organisation would do, for sure.
None of this really surprises me as I have experienced first-hand the FA's inability to treat players properly. After I came back to Arsenal at the start of 2010, I was playing as well as any defender in the country and legitimately thought I would get a call-up for the World Cup that summer.
That was certainly the suggestion I was getting from inside the FA, but then nothing happened. Fabio Capello didn't even bother coming to see me, instead he sent Franco Baldini, who kept saying "we're thinking about you Sol, we're thinking about you, Sol", before they instead picked Ledley King, who has always been injury prone, and Jamie Carragher, who was not playing great for Liverpool at that time and had stated publicly that he didn't want to play for England again. In contrast, I had always made myself available to my country and, like Rio, could have offered the squad an enormous amount of tournament-experience.
The argument that it simply would have been impossible to have had both Rio and John Terry in the squad for Euro 2012 is again something I do not buy. These guys are professionals who want to play for their country and despite any ill-feeling that may exist between them off the pitch, on it they would have just got on with it and played. I would definitely have picked them both – they're in form and would give the team a level of experience which is vital at a major tournament. Their names should have been the first ones down on the list and then it should have been up to the younger guys to fight it out among themselves for the other positions.
At the very least Rio should have been given the opportunity to say "no, I don't want to be in the same squad as John Terry". Hodgson should have spoken to him man-to-man, face-to-face, eyeball-to-eyeball and seen where he was at, seen if he felt capable of contributing to the team and being around Terry for the next three weeks. Given everything Rio has done for his country, and how he has been playing for United in recent months, he deserved that at least.
There is no doubt that those who have been chosen for England will be speaking about this issue now. Crucially many of them will now doubt if they can trust the FA and be questioning who is really pulling the strings; the manager or people behind the scenes? Some will not know where they stand. A wider issue is if this episode leads to players in the future feeling reluctant to speak out against racism in case it harms their chances of being picked by England. That would be extremely serious and would have to lead to the government getting involved in some way.
And if it is ever proven true that John Terry was chosen over Rio because of race then I would tell the FA that they can take back my 73 caps and scrub my name out of the record books. I would no longer want to be known as someone who played for England – that would be the end for me.