Monday, 1 February 2010

My email to Gerry Sutcliffe: Sports Minister's "improper pressure" on FA

I have tonight emailed Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe to utterly condemn his interference in the FA's decision-making about England football captain John Terry. My email reads:
Along with many others, I believe that it is grossly inappropriate for you, as Sports Minister, to intervene in this situation. I have never met Mr Terry or anyone else involved in the newspapers’ recent stories about his private life. I do not see why the alleged state of his marriage is my business or yours. I know little and care less about the content of these stories about Mr Terry, and am depressed by the extent to which newspapers are focusing on it, when there are surely more important matters to report than gossip about a footballer’s private life.

This country is not a tinpot dictatorship in which the Sports Minister gets to choose the national football captain. This is England, a country in which people would rather that the Sports Minister focused on the spiralling Olympic budget than on tabloid tittle-tattle about a sportsman. The stories about Mr Terry may or may not be true. But that is a matter for Mr Terry, those close to him and his employers, not for you as Sports Minister. I trust that Fabio Capello and the Football Association will reach their own decisions without regard to improper pressure from your office.
Many past politicians have themselves had messy private lives (real or alleged) without having to resign from government, including the late Robin Cook – was it OK for an alleged adulterer to be Foreign Secretary, but not to be the England football captain? Besides, in the current climate, can politicians really occupy the moral high ground in the wake of the expenses row?

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