England manager Roy Hodgson has declared his total confidence in John Terry to handle any issues that arise from the potential problem of racism at Euro 2012.
Concerns have been raised about the safety of supporters who travel to Ukraine, with Donetsk, where England will play two of their three group games, said to be a particular hotspot for trouble.
The Football Association are bound to condemn any racism issues vigorously.
That will leave them open to possible allegations of double standards given Terry’s presence in England’s 23-man squad even though the Chelsea captain will face a court case on July 9 into the allegation that he used racist language towards Anton Ferdinand, whose brother Rio has been overlooked by Hodgson. Terry denies the charge.
“There’s no doubt that the issue of racism in Ukraine is a concern for us all, not least the supporters who go over there and risk maybe getting beaten up, or if they happen not maybe to be white, subjected to a lot of abuse,” said Hodgson.
“But I’m convinced that John Terry is a person who will be able to handle these matters.
“He’s had to deal with a lot of criticism in different areas.
“He has to stand up and face situations that he has created.
“But he has the strength of character to do that.”
Hodgson’s decision to leave out Rio Ferdinand appears to have been accepted as the end of his international career by the Manchester United defender.
He wrote on his Twitter account: “Absolutely loved playing for england... to say I’m gutted is an understatement of the highest order...”
It was the decision of FA chairman David Bernstein to strip Terry of the captain’s armband that triggered Fabio Capello’s decision to resign in February.
Having taken that stance, and then allowed Hodgson the freedom to select Terry if he wished even though it was the second time he had been subjected to such action following the Wayne Bridge saga, Capello’s successor had no reason to ignore him.
“The moral judgment has been made on him twice in the past,” said Hodgson.
“I didn’t need to add my ideas on that and wasn’t given any instruction on that matter.
“I accepted when I took the job that he had been stripped of the captaincy, and I wouldn’t be allowed to pick him as captain.
“Basically, I wanted to take a group of players that I think gives us a chance of doing well in the tournament.
“I’ve been impressed with a lot of what John Terry has done over the course of the season. He’s played a major part in helping Chelsea to the Champions League final – even if he did something stupid in the semi (Terry was dismissed for kneeing Alexis Sanchez in the back off the ball and is suspended from this Saturday’s final).
“Things happen in football – and we’ve got a better chance of winning the tournament if he takes the form he’s been showing to the finals – so I decided John Terry should be one of the centre-halves.”
He also decided that Ferdinand should not be, insisting the potential for conflict between the pair played no part in his decision, and was not a matter he brought up in conversation with either man on Tuesday.
“I can’t insult your intelligence and say I wasn’t aware of the situation,” said Hodgson.
“But I have tried to put it as far from my mind as possible.
“I’ve juggled a lot with the squad in my mind and I’ll have to live with this decision.”
The decision, to put it bluntly, came down to Hodgson preferring Ferdinand’s Manchester United team-mate Phil Jones, which the England coach felt the need to explain even if he did get rather tired of the line of questioning.
“Are we ever getting off Rio Ferdinand?” he said.
“There are 23 men in the squad, we’re preparing for the future, and yet we’re discussing one man until the cows come home.
“The football reasons are quite simple. I wanted seven defenders, with Phil Jones in the squad, especially when Kyle Walker was no longer a possibility.
“I decided on my three centre-backs and Rio wasn’t one of them.
“I admire Rio Ferdinand, I respect Rio Ferdinand.
“But, as a football coach, you have to make decisions sometimes.
“I’ll stand by that and hope the players I’ve chosen, will not let myself and the country down.”
Although there was no sense of anger in Ferdinand’s tweet, it would be understandable if the former Leeds United man was aggrieved at his omission given the wealth of experience he has at international level.
Hodgson telephoned the defender, who has been troubled by back problems for two years, to explain his decision and says he took the news relatively well.
“He was very graceful,” Hodgson said.
“He was obviously disappointed but he wished myself and the team the very best of luck in the tournament.”
Terry has vowed to fight “tooth and nail” to clear his name, and insists he is not a racist.
His presence in the squad could prove “toxic” according to some, but Hodgson said: “The court case is obviously very unfortunate for him but we must emphasise he is an innocent man until he is proven guilty.
“I realised that when I selected him there would be people who would raise eyebrows but that’s the decision that I’ve made, that’s the decision I shall live with.”
Details of England’s Euro 2012 squad in full: Page 23.