Posted on Apr 26
Premier League chiefs have tried to avoid a potential flashpoint by abandoning the pre-match handshake at Sunday's match between Chelsea and QPR because of the racism allegations involving John Terry and Anton Ferdinand.
Chelsea skipper Terry is facing a July 9 court case over allegations he racially abused Ferdinand during QPR's victory over Chelsea in October.
Terry, who lost the England captaincy over the issue, has strongly denied wrongdoing.
The Football Association cancelled handshakes when QPR faced Chelsea in the FA Cup in January, but the Premier League had previously been adamant the ritual would go ahead in Sunday's game at Stamford Bridge.
But after a day of conflicting reports about whether the gesture would be observed this weekend, and the potential legal ramifications if Ferdinand and Terry did or did not shake hands, the Premier League decided to suspend the convention for this match only.
"The Premier League position on the pre-match handshake convention remains consistent," a statement issued by the Premier League on Thursday said.
"In all normal circumstances it must be observed.
"However, after discussions with both Chelsea and Queens Park Rangers about the potential and specific legal context in relation to John Terry and Anton Ferdinand the decision has been taken to suspend the handshake convention for Sunday's match."
The Premier League stuck to their handshake policy when Liverpool met Manchester United following Luis Suarez's ban for racially abusing Patrice Evra -- when the Liverpool striker caused a storm by snubbing the French defender.
But such was the media speculation Thursday surrounding the question of whether the ritual would take place at Stamford Bridge, the Crown Prosecution Service issued a statement insisting it had not advised Terry to avoid shaking hands with Ferdinand.
"Some sections of the media have reported today (Thursday) that the CPS has advised footballer John Terry not to shake hands with Anton Ferdinand before a match this weekend. This is not correct," the CPS statement said.
"The CPS has not given any such advice to Terry or his legal representatives."
Premier League chief Richard Scudamore last month said the handshakes, introduced in 2004, would remain part of the game.
"It's not a handshake that says everybody loves everybody else," Scudamore said.
"It's a handshake that says 'whatever crap's gone on before now and whatever crap will go on after this game is over, for the next 90 minutes, let's just play a game of football'.
"It's nothing more symbolic than that, which is why in our view, they should continue -- period."