Roy Hodgson’s England squad will follow the example of football clubs across the country by implementing a code of conduct for players, the Football Association has announced.
For years such codes have been used to set behavioural standards for players, from youth teams at grassroots level right up to professional clubs.
In England a code of conduct is mandatory for all Charter Standard clubs or teams playing in a Respect League and now the FA wants to see their senior squad follow suit.
Players who break the code – which should be introduced before England’s game with Sweden next month – could face suspension from international duty.
The move follows a number of recent indiscretions by England players, most notably former captain John Terry and Ashley Cole, although the FA was keen to point out that these cases were not linked to the new code of conduct, which has been in development since January.
But after a tough few weeks for the FA, culminating in Ashley Cole calling them a “bunch of t***s” via Twitter, FA Chairman David Bernstein was keen to put the issue of respect back to the top of his agenda.
“I came into this position as chairman with five things I’d identified, one of which was respect, in its wider sense,” said Bernstein.
“Not just towards referees but player-to-player, the whole Respect agenda. I’m beginning to think it’s the most important thing I’ve got to deal with as chairman of the FA.”
It has been a turbulent period for the England squad. Former captain John Terry retired from international football last month before being suspended by the FA for racially abusing Queens Park Rangers’ Anton Ferdinand whilst playing for Chelsea in October 2011.
Cole then landed himself in hot water with his offensive tweet after the FA had questioned the reliability of his evidence in the Terry investigation.
The left back swiftly withdrew the tweet and sought out Bernstein to apologise in person ahead of this week’s opening of St George’s Park but, on a day of celebration for the FA, the Chairman would no doubt have preferred to have been discussing a new chapter for English football rather than field media questions on the Cole affair.
Bernstein was keen to publicly draw a line under the issue before FA President The Duke of Cambridge met the players at the official opening of the £100m centre but, announcing the code of conduct later in the day, he reminded the players of their responsibilities as senior internationals.
“Of course, they are incredible role models with incredibly high-profiles and their behaviour is extremely important. I feel very strongly about that,” he added.
“This really should have been brought in years and years ago.”
Dan Pope, Club Website editor
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