Belfast Telegraph

Mark Hughes to consult QPR squad over John Terry handshake

By Simon Peach and Paul Hirst

Mark Hughes will hold a meeting with QPR's players tomorrow morning to discuss whether to snub John Terry's handshake before Sunday's match against Chelsea.

Sunday's west London derby at Stamford Bridge is the first time that Anton Ferdinand and Terry have met in a Barclays Premier League game since the Chelsea captain was accused of racially abusing the QPR defender in October's reverse fixture.

Terry was charged with a racially-aggravated public order offence in December last year following the game, but the former England captain denies the charge and has vowed to fight "tooth and nail" to clear his name in his trial, which takes place on July 9.

Ferdinand is understood to be contemplating snubbing the 31-year-old's handshake prior to the game and QPR boss Hughes wants to know the plans of his centre-back, and the rest of the Rangers team before the game.

Press Association Sport understands that Hughes will announce whether his team's players will snub Terry's handshake at tomorrow afternoon's pre-match press conference following the meeting with his players at the club's training ground.

Ferdinand has held discussions with his lawyers about whether snubbing Terry's handshake on Sunday would prejudice the former England skipper's trial.

The Football Association cancelled the pre-match handshake when the two clubs met in the FA Cup in January, but the Premier League insist that the handshake between the two sides will go ahead this weekend.

Ferdinand has held talks with QPR about the handshake, and the player insists he is in the right frame of mind to play despite the hostile atmosphere he and his team-mates will face in Sunday's derby.

Should Ferdinand snub Terry's handshake, it will mark another chapter in what has been a turbulent year or so for Chelsea's skipper.

Terry regained the England captaincy in March 2011 after originally losing the armband following newspaper allegations about his private life, but he lost the honour again in February after he was charged with racially abusing Ferdinand.

The Chelsea centre-half was sent off on Tuesday night for kneeing Alexis Sanchez in the back during the Blues' Champions League semi-final second leg against Barcelona. The Londoners went on to win the tie 3-2 on aggregate but Terry will be suspended for the final and he apologised for his conduct after the game in the Nou Camp.

The pre-match handshake has been a source of controversy this season, with Luis Suarez refusing to shake Patrice Evra's hand prior to Liverpool's 2-1 defeat at Manchester United in February.

That followed an accusation from Evra that Suarez had racially abused him. The Liverpool player later apologised for not shaking Evra's hand and also served a suspension when the Football Association found Evra's allegations to be proved.

The Premier League insist the fair play ritual, which they introduced into the top flight in 2004, is an important part of the game and will therefore remain.

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore told the Sport Industry Breakfast Club last month: "It's not a handshake that says everybody loves everybody else.

"It's a handshake that says 'whatever c**p's gone on before now and whatever c**p will go on after this game is over, for the next 90 minutes, let's just play a game of football'.

"It's nothing more symbolic than that, which is why in our view, they should continue - period."

Belfast Telegraph


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