In another twist to the John Terry racism case, Terry’s team mate Ashley Cole became the latest player to come under fire.  Cole, who tweeted his thoughts following the FA’s decision to charge Terry with racism, faced a potential FA misconduct charge following his criticism of the association.

Although Cole ultimately escaped punishment after offering an unreserved apology to FA chairman, David Bernstein, this latest in a run of charges by the FA seems to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. Following the news of Cole’s slapped wrist, the FA have announced that they will launch a ‘code of conduct’ for all England players.

In this age of paparazzi and social media, with players seemingly having many more ways to get into trouble, this can only be good news.
The current way that players are regulated, the Rules of the Football Association, consists of a volume of documents which even the most adherent player would surely struggle to digest. To expect players to follow rules that are ensconced within dossiers thicker than your average yellow pages volume, is fairly unrealistic an expectation.

Provided the new code is limited to a short, easy to read document and all players are made to read it, the proposed code of conduct would be a good move for everyone involved, including the FA themselves. A clear, concise statement of behavioural codes and the applicable sanctions leaves players in little doubt as to what is expected of them; in turn making it easier for the FA to give out punishment when the rules are broken.

Unfortunately the new Code of Conduct perhaps comes too late for some. One such individual is Fabio Capello, who promptly resigned after publicly challenging the FA’s decision to strip John Terry of the captaincy after he was charged with racially abuse. Arguably, had a code of conduct been in place, with the written rules clear and the sanctions set out for all to see, this situation may have been avoided.

By Daniel Draper, Sports Lawyer