The Respect campaign was intended to promote cohesion and social diversity on and off the field of football and to combat “abusive and anti-social behaviour”. The pre-match handshake, one of its most visible protocols, came into question last season and again this season, in Saturday’s London derby between Queen’s Park Rangers and Chelsea.
The controversy derived from the same fixture last October, which saw Chelsea captain John Terry clash on the field with Ferdinand, who subsequently alleged that Terry had racially abused him. An off-field complaint was filed and a Westminster court case followed, culminating in the dismissal of the claims and the acquittal of Terry in July of this year.
However, this is not the first time Terry has been involved in a media-hyped ‘handshake snub’. In an incident in February 2010, ex-England teammate Wayne Bridge, then contracted to Manchester City, refused to shake the hand of Terry for his alleged affair with Bridge’s former girlfriend and mother of his son, Vanessa Perroncel.
Again, it would appear, the concept of ‘respect’ had been breached by the ex-England captain, who lost the captaincy as a result of the heavily speculated affair, under the reign of Fabio Capello.
Saturday’s incident has once again brought Respect into the limelight and, perhaps, further emphasized the need for the campaign.
On a day that also saw Manchester United fans chanting “tasteless” taunts at Liverpool fans in the wake of the publication of the Hillsborough report – an act which Manchester United have officially “deplored” – the question remains, is there respect in football?
Subsequently, QPR manager Mark Hughes has called for the FA to scrap the pre-match handshake all together. One can only ascertain that he feels the handshake itself is responsible for the problem.
"This element of the Respect campaign is something that causes more problems than it solves and I don't think that was the intention when it was introduced," Hughes responded. "Should the handshakes carry on? I hope not.”
It could be argued, the handshake is merely a gesture – a representation of respect, not only for the opposition but also, more widely, for social diversity and unity in the game – something it appears Anton Ferdinand has not yet dismissed.
image: © jorge-11