England begin work at their Euro 2012 base in Krakow with the spectre of Rio Ferdinand threatening to hang over them right up to their Group D opener against France in Donetsk.
On a walkabout shortly after arrival on Wednesday night, FA chairman David Bernstein insisted he did not want to discuss Ferdinand, claiming it was one of “what are now frankly historical, extraneous issues”.
Yet the row over Ferdinand’s omission from England’s 23-man squad continues, with former central defender Sol Campbell the latest to speak out. He told the Guardian: “If it is ever proven true that John Terry was chosen over Rio because of race then I would tell the FA that they can take back my 73 caps and scrub my name out of the record books.”
“I would no longer want to be known as someone who played for England - that would be the end for me. At the very least Rio should have been given the opportunity to say ‘no, I don’t want to be in the same squad as John Terry’.”
The unease at Ferdinand’s omission puts even more focus on events at Loftus Road last October, which has led to Terry facing a charge of using racist language to Anton Ferdinand.
It is a charge Terry strenuously denies. Yet the mere fact it will not go before magistrates until next month has created a wholly unsatisfactory situation the FA are struggling to find a way out of.
Thus, when they hoped to express delight at being right in the heart of Krakow for the duration of the tournament, Bernstein had to fend off talk of Ferdinand, with manager Roy Hodgson apparently not due to speak to the media until the weekend.
“We’re here to talk about the tournament, about the 23 players who are here and I’m not prepared to discuss - at all - any players who are not here,” he said. “It might be an issue - but it’s an issue I’m happy to talk about when the tournament is over maybe.
“We are here to talk about the tournament and about the future and that’s it. We all want to maximise our chances of doing well and we believe that the focus must be on what’s ahead of us - not what is behind us.
“We’d hope you would join us in that, looking forward to do the very best we can with positive thoughts and not dwelling on all these sort of what are now frankly historical, extraneous issues.”