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The furore that John Terry has stirred up within the England National Team has captured the attention of everyone. It also provided Fabio Capello with the unenviable task of whether to strip the Chelsea star of the England captaincy, a subject that divided patriotic supporters and team-mates alike.
On the pitch Terry is the exemplary role model; an old fashioned do or die motivational figure, revered by colleagues and feared by opponents. Off the pitch though, he fits the mould of the new age footballing anti-hero; involved in a number of scandals in the last decade, from mocking American tourists following the 9/11 attacks, to nonchalantly parking in disabled spaces with the knowledge that he could easily pay the fine.
A string of affairs have followed including his alleged dalliance with Vanessa Perroncel, the ex-partner of Wayne Bridge, and brought his already controversial private life under intense scrutiny.
The 29-year-old is certainly not shy of controversy but one thing people seem to have forgotten is that neither is the man who decided whether he was to wear the armband again. Heavily tied up in the 2006 Calciopoli scandal while coach of Juventus; Fabio Capello is no stranger to suspicious behaviour.
Capello’s side was stripped of the 2005 and 2006 Scudettos, and relegated to Serie B for the first time in history following investigations in to Luciano Moggi’s manipulation of refereeing authorities to favour Juventus. Although Moggi was General Director at the time and took much of the blame, Capello sensed the backlash and quickly left to take over at Real Madrid.
When he left the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium after leading Madrid to their first La Liga title in three seasons, little did he know that he would be thrown in to the cauldron of controversy once again. However, it is also very naive to think that the England national side are the only ones in crisis right now.
The Africa Cup of Nations revealed the strengths and more poignantly, the weaknesses, of the continent’s teams who qualified for this year’s World Cup. Egypt, who didn’t qualify for South Africa, won the tournament for the third consecutive time while favourites Ivory Coast slumped out in the Quarter-Finals against Algeria. Cameroon, also hotly tipped to go far in the tournament failed to fulfil their potential and reach the final. Instead, Ghana provided opposition for the Egyptians and had a respectable tournament considering the absence of key players to injury.
It’s clear that the African teams who have qualified for the World Cup will have to make a vast improvement to avoid disappointment on the greatest stage. South American football also has its own share of concerns in the lead up to this summer’s tournament. For one, the circus-like ring leader Diego Maradona is still in charge of the Argentinean national side much to the delight of opposition teams and fans.
The Paraguayan national team have suffered the biggest blow to their World Cup hopes in the Americas though. Last month their striker Salvador Cabañas was shot in the head in a nightclub bathroom in Mexico City. The Club América star was the top goal scorer for Paraguay in their qualification campaign for the World Cup and was tipped to make a great impression at this summer’s tournament.
Luckily, Cabañas survived the attack but he remains critical in hospital and his World Dream has escaped him. It will now be up to the Paraguayan national coach Gerardo Martino to restore hope to their campaign by inspiring his players in June.
Capello and Martino will hope they can bring their squads together much in the same way that Marcello Lippi did prior to the 2006 World Cup in Germany following the domestic game’s scandal. And if Italy’s success is anything to go by then Lippi showed that chaos can work as the catalyst for cup glory. Capello’s greatest triumph yet may be bringing together a squad and embracing the chaos within.