There are three strong camps in the debate over whether John Terry had to resign as England’s soccer captain.
The footballing pragmatists say it should be settled solely on how well he is doing the job. His private life, they say, is no concern of the team or of England. If the Manager backed him the media would have to back off and he could continue. Many of them detect no sudden loss of form or authority on the pitch that worries them. They want a captain who plays football brilliantly. They do not expect him to be a saint or even a great role model off the field.
The media realists agree that you cannot prevent a man being England’s captain just for errors in his non footballing life. There are , apparently, few top flight footballers without something in their private lives that might cause concern or give opportunity for the media to criticise. They take the view that if a player can get away with it, so be it. If, however, a recent scandal leads to an overwhelming weight of media criticism and attention then they feel reluctantly the man has to go. You might call it Labour’s 3 day test. If something bad is leading the news three days running then action has to be taken to remove the source of the concern. It is a “distraction” from the main job.
The third group take a more traditional moral stance. They say that if someone aspires to lead in various walks of life, including in the high profile area of international team sports, they need to show discipline in their private lives as well. They do want great footballers or golfers or rugby stars to be people the young can look up to. They do not want them on charges for assault, or guilty of alcohol excess, or cheating their wives, or some other anti social conduct.
I invite my bloggers to send in their thoughts on where we should be in modern Britain. Should a clergyman lead by example and always behave honestly and decently? What should we expect of our political leaders? Should they be expected to live up to the moral standards expected of a Bishop? Should a sporting leader be required to behave better or allowed to behave worse than a government Minsiter? Is a business leader allowed to be unfaithful to his wife or to behave badly in a pub or club where a footballer or a politician is not? Is a business leader of a well known public company rightly more at risk for misconduct than one who leads a lower profile business?
Are there any absolute standards that all must meet? Are there graded standards that people with differing degrees of power and responsbility need to adhere to? Or is it now the case that the media is the judge, and all hinges on how long a story runs and how intense it is? Do the press in this case speak for the nation, and have they judged it right that people wanted Mr Terry to resign?