FA establishes England etiquette in player code of conduct

John Terry

The newly adopted players' code of conduct places special emphasis on the "privileged position" of the office of national captain and formally grants the Club England board power of veto to strip any individual of the honour.

The Football Association's 16-page A5 booklet, six pages of which deal specifically with the code, was drawn up over a 10-month period and has been presented to the senior England squad.

The wide-reaching document lists 33 dos and don'ts for players whether they are on international duty or not, "covering everything from interaction on social media, reminders upon issues such as drug use and discrimination, to recommendations not to spend too much time playing video games in the team hotel", with a page dedicated specifically to the national captaincy.

"The position of England captain is a privileged position which carries with it additional expectations and responsibilities (both on and off the field)," it reads. "The captain of each team is therefore under increased scrutiny and is expected to be a role model to the rest of the squad in his/her compliance of the code. The captaincy may be removed from a player by the Club England Management Board in the event his/her conduct does not meet the standards required for this role."

That scenario was effectively played out in February when John Terry was sacked ahead of a court appearance in the summer to answer charges of a racially aggravated public order offence, the dismissal prompting Fabio Capello's resignation in protest. Terry was cleared at Westminster magistrates court, though he was later found guilty by an independent regulatory commission and faces a four-match ban and £220,000 fine.

The new code of conduct serves as formal clarification that Club England's powers supersede those of the national manager on the issue. The code, as confirmed by Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney over the past week, is a statement of common sense principles and essentially serves as a reminder of responsibilities.

On the inside front cover is a note written in white lettering on a red background: "Players representing England are ambassadors for their country and role models for younger players. The highest standards of conduct and behaviour are therefore expected at all times, including when players are not on international duty."

There are details of standards expected of players at all time, with warnings against violence, abuse or discrimination, the use of drugs without a doctor's permission, or comments on Twitter or Facebook about the opposition, management or other individuals that might lead to disciplinary action.

That issue was recently highlighted when Ashley Cole recently described the FA as a "bunch of twats", with the Chelsea full-back currently awaiting details of his punishment.

There are reminders to be respectful on international duty to everyone from hotel staff to drug-testing officers and opponents, and a section entitled "professionalism" summarising what is expected of players while with England.

That includes warnings that the squad should not use room service at the team hotel, that the drinking of alcohol, and use of mobile telephones at meal times, in the dressing room or team bus, is at the head coach's discretion, and that players should "only use a sensible amount of time playing video or computer games". There should be no comments on Twitter or Facebook on the eve or day of a game "unless authorised" by the FA's media department, and reminders that texts and picture messages "can become public".

Details are also outlined of the disciplinary procedure if offences are committed, with the Club England board – comprising the FA chairman, David Bernstein, the general secretary, Alex Horne, the Club England managing director, Adrian Bevington, and the director of football development, Sir Trevor Brooking – overseeing any investigation.

A range of sanctions are available, from oral or written warnings to exclusion from selection for "a fixed or indefinite period", with Club England maintaining the right to suspend players at its discretion pending the conclusion of any outside investigation, such as a criminal proceedings.

Incidents will be treated on a case by case basis, with a list of examples of serious misconduct – from theft and dishonesty, to assault, deliberate damage to FA property, being under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs and any form of discrimination – included in the booklet.

There is no right to appeal given that representing England is considered an honour rather than a contractual employer-employee arrangement. The section ends with a warning, written in bold: "Players are to advise either their national team coach, team administrator or a Club England official when they are guilty or have been accused of any criminal offence."

The document will be given to all 24 England representative teams, with Ray Clemence having delivered a presentation to the Under-17s on Tuesday. The England manager, Hope Powell, will do likewise to the women's senior team later this week. The code will be updated annually, with each player newly selected for England receiving a copy and a brief verbal presentation of the expectations that come with a call-up.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Dominic Fifield in Warsaw, for The Guardian on Tuesday 16th October 2012 23.00 Europe/London

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image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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