The England manager Fabio Capello was at loggerheads with the Football Association last night after he launched a personal attack on the governing body's decision last week to strip John Terry of the captaincy in an interview with an Italian broadcaster.
The 65-year-old appeared to challenge the authority of his employers in an interview with RAI in which he directly criticised the decision made on Friday that Terry would not be captain until he resolved his case for racial abuse that will not be heard until 9 July, after the European Championships.
Asked by the RAI interviewer whether he agreed with the FA decision, Capello replied: "No, absolutely not. I spoke with the chairman [David Bernstein] and I told him that I don't think someone can be punished until it becomes official. The court will decide. It's going to be civil justice, not sports justice, to decide if John Terry committed that crime that he is accused of. And I thought it fair that John Terry keeps the captain's armband."
In a move that could herald a breakdown in relations between Capello and the FA, the England manager appeared to suggest in one version of the interview that that he believed Terry was "still the captain". The interview was given to the Italian broadcaster RAI via video link from London. Capello was at Stamford Bridge yesterday to watch Chelsea's 3-3 draw with Manchester United.
The position of the FA remains the same as it was on Thursday night when the decision of the 14-strong FA board to take the captaincy away from Terry was communicated to the England manager while he was on holiday in Italy. The FA's position has not changed, regardless of Capello's feelings, and that will be communicated to the England manager when he returns to work this week.
When the Capello camp were informed of the decision by the FA they were sufficiently disillusioned to check Capello's employment contract to ascertain whether the FA had the right to take the captaincy away from Terry. Having done so, Capello accepts that the FA do have the contractual right to decide the captaincy above the head of the England manager.
Rio Ferdinand was the subject of abusive chants from Chelsea fans yesterday over his brother Anton's part in the racial abuse charges against John Terry.
In the meantime, the FA are planning to draw up a code of conduct for players in consultation with the squad in which transgressions and punishments will clearly be marked out. He said: "We want the players to feel ownership of this with us, so it is clearly understood."