Chelsea face QPR for the first time this season and with that fixture brings all the connotations of John Terry, Ashley Cole and Anton Ferdinand after last season’s race abuse charge and eventual clearing of the Chelsea captain of all charges this summer in a court case.
There is little point being drawn on the subject of what was said, what wasn’t said etc. etc. John Terry has been found not guilty in a court of law and regardless of what you, or I think, it is unchangeable.
The repercussions of the John Terry ordeal have been wide ranging, Fabio Capello leaving the England job, Steven Gerrard becoming England captain and a much wider focus on racism in the modern game being suddenly thrown back into the limelight.
But as the issue brought about the end of an England manager’s career in this country could it also bring about the end of one of the Premier Leagues favoured customs, the pre-match handshake.
The handshake is not steeped in history or tradition in top level football as it was only introduced in 2004 as a gesture of goodwill. However it is now being high jacked as a means to make an extremely visible and provocative gesture.
Handshakes originate from the Wild West as a means to show the recipient you were not carrying a weapon but today the handshake itself has become just this; a weapon and the Premier League do not need it.
Nobody however would blame Wayne Bridge for not wanting to shake the hand of John Terry; for reasons we all know I am sure he would have much preferred making a very different kind of contact with his former international and club team-mate.
Anton Ferdinand would obviously feel the same toward John Terry in not wanting to be friendly to a man who ‘may or may not have’ called him abhorrent and hateful things.
Do we want a repeat of the scenes last season when the unlikeable Luis Suarez refused to shake the hand of Patrice Evra, regardless of whether you personally believe Suarez was the victim of a xenophobic misunderstanding and cultural differences or that he genuinely aimed racial hatred to instigate reaction from the Frenchman is irrelevant, the fact remained the handshake should not have happened.
It goes beyond not liking the recipient of said gesture, if that were true there may only be a handful of mutual handshakes a weekend, but in these cases the men involved felt an absolute moral distinguishment that shaking the hands of the other person would be disrespectful to themselves and an act they simply could not do (not including Suarez who I think is just deliberately irritating).
Even if it does make a good pre-match picture the solution is simple; scrap the handshakes. The Premier League thinks it shows ‘respect’ and ‘goodwill’ but it really doesn’t, it shows 11 men can take directions easily to shake the hands of another.
Anyway, at the moment Terry, Cole and Ferdinand are all fighting to be fit for the game so the issue may not arise, but it will at some point and then you have to ask why they continue with this charade of ‘goodwill’.
Should we just scrap the handshake? Or is it an important part of the game?