FA must make a bold, public stance on the John Terry substitution debacle.
Amongst the headlines from Sunday’s football, the story of John Terry’s 26th minute substitution is the most controversial.
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If you want to see Match Fixing at it’s clearest, most unadulterated form — just watch the Chelsea vs Sunderland Premier League fixture.
It has come to light that both teams agreed, at John Terry’s request, that the game would temporarily stop in the 26th minute in order that Terry could be replaced. That temporary stop would come about in the form of a throw-in.
The reason? It would be JT’s final game for Chelsea and he wanted the accolades for his time at the club.
The reason for the 26th minute being selected is due to 26 being his shirt number.
Since Sunday, it has been confirmed that bookmakers have paid out on bets placed on the scenario occurring, and the FA have asked for details from the bookmakers for each bet. Terry, meanwhile, has stated he “doesn’t care less” what people think of it.
Some fans are claiming there’s nothing wrong with what happened. BBC pundits and other fans have been critical. Some — like myself — believe it is a form of match fixing.
What do the FA determine to be match fixing, though?
The FA have a special section for this on their website, and the very first of the key points, reads thus:
Fixing is arranging in advance the result or conduct of a match or competition, or any event within a match or competition.
Now, I’m certainly not suggesting that any member of the Chelsea or Sunderland teams or management benefited financially from this event, but there’s no doubt that this in-match event was pre-arranged. Both David Moyes (Sunderland manager) and John Terry have confirmed this.
As much as it might be a great gesture, it’s made a mockery of what was, ultimately, a competitive fixture.
This was no friendly or testimonial game.
Yes, Chelsea had already won the league and Sunderland were already relegated, so nothing was going to be decided competition-wise on the outcome of the game. Nonetheless, it’s as clear as day that both teams conspired to fix this match in the form of this event occurring.
Ultimately, both teams cheated.
Does it make it right that it was JT’s last game at Stamford Bridge in a Chelsea shirt? Does it make it right it was to celebrate his time with the club? Does it make it any more wrong because it was John Terry involved?
Of course not.
But nor does it make it right that Terry, Chelsea FC or Sunderland AFC made the arrangement as a gesture of goodwill rather than for financial gains.
The reality is both teams contrived the scenario from happening, pre-match, in the 26th minute. By the FA’s own rule book and clearly worded statement, that is match fixing.
As a result, the FA have to be decisive and make a bold, clear, public stance on this.
They must punish John Terry, Chelsea FC and Sunderland AFC for their roles in this in-match event fixing. Likewise, any other player who was involved in the fixing of this event must be punished.
If the FA don’t make a stance now, they’re making a rod for their own back in any future cases of match fixing allegations. And it further destroys any confidence left after the Fifa investigations that the game is not corrupt.