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Terry removed as England captain over racism case

Updated: February 03, 2012, 13:17

FILE - A Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011 photo from files showing England's John Terry, wearing the captain's armband ahead of an international friendly soccer match between England and Sweden at Wembley Stadium in London. A person familiar with the situation says John Terry has been removed as England captain while awaiting trial for racist abuse. The person says Terry was informed of the decision on Friday morning, Feb. 3, 2012. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the announcement had not yet been made by The Football Association.  The Chelsea defender denies making racist comments to Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand during a Premier League match in October. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)

LONDON(AP) John Terry was dumped as England captain on Friday while awaiting trial for racial abuse, but the Chelsea defender will remain eligible to play for the national team at the European Championship.

With the trial delayed this week until after Euro 2012, the English Football Association said executives went over coach Fabio Capello's head and stripped Terry of the captaincy "until the allegations against him are resolved.''

Terry is the first top footballer in England to be charged with such a racially aggravated public order offense after prosecutors found there was enough evidence to prove he hurled abuse at Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand during a Premier League match in October.

"(The board) collectively decided it is in the interests of all parties that John has the responsibilities of captaincy removed at this time,'' the FA said. "This decision has been taken due to the higher profile nature of the England captaincy, on and off the pitch, and the additional demands and requirements expected of the captain leading into and during a tournament.

"The FA board can confirm that he has not been excluded from the squad.''

Terry, who denies the criminal charge, did not publicly comment after being sacked by telephone by FA chairman David Bernstein.

In an usual move, Capello was not consulted about the decision to dump Terry, unlike in 2010 when he lost the captaincy ahead of the World Cup over allegations he had an affair with the former girlfriend of England teammate Wayne Bridge.

The FA said Capello "understands that the FA Board has authority to make this decision'' but insisted that he is free to select Terry's successor.

After Terry was accused of abusing Ferdinand, Capello said at the time that he could continue as captain because he was "innocent until proven guilty.''

But Capello and the FA had expected the 31-year-old Terry's trial would take place before the European Championship in Ukraine and Poland.

A judge on Wednesday, however, delayed the trial until July 9, a week after the Euro 2012 final, after Chelsea said it would be difficult for players to testify during the Premier League season.

"This decision (to sack Terry) in no way infers any suggestion of guilt in relation to the charge made against John Terry,'' the FA said.

Although Terry has lost the England captaincy, Chelsea said he will continue to captain the Premier League club.

"I don't agree with (the FA's decision),'' Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas said Friday. "John will continue to be our captain. It (the trial) doesn't compromise on my decision-making. It obviously compromises on the FA's decision-making.''

Stoke manager Tony Pulis also believes the FA made the wrong decision.

"We wouldn't treat anyone differently in this football club until they were proven guilty,'' he said. "You have to be proven guilty first.''

But British sports minister Hugh Robertson supported the FA's decision.

"It would have been impossible for John Terry to have continued as captain with this charge over his head,'' he said.

Terry, who has played 72 times for England since his debut in 2003, was stripped of the captaincy for the first time almost two years ago to the day.

Anton Ferdinand's brother, Rio, was given the captaincy then, but Terry was reinstated last March, with Capello saying that "one year's punishment is enough.''

Terry's position was thrown into doubt just six months later when he allegedly shouted abuse at Anton Ferdinand during Chelsea's 1-0 loss at QPR. The FA's own investigation was put on hold when the police probe began.

England's next match is a friendly against the Netherlands on Feb. 29 at Wembley Stadium, with Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard is in line to take over as England skipper.

Vice captain Rio Ferdinand said Friday he does not want the job again "after the last episode'' - being dropped from the role without being spoken to first.

"I've been England captain before for a brief period. It was taken away from me so I just want to concentrate on playing for Manchester United,'' Ferdinand told the BBC.

Terry will miss Sunday's match against Ferdinand's United due to a knee injury.

English football had appeared to have eradicated the racism problems that blighted the game in the 1970s and 80s, but this season has been marred by a series of allegations.

Liverpool striker Luis Suarez is completing an eight-match ban for repeatedly racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra during a match in October.

And a United fan was charged Friday for shouting racist abuse at Stoke players during a match on Tuesday.

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