Chris Burton ponders whether captains should abide by stricter rules than their team-mates.
Last Updated: 06/02/10 11:11am
So John Terry has been stripped of the England captaincy and the inevitable fall-out, which will probably end with the Three Lions crashing out of this summer's World Cup on penalties at the quarter-final stage, has begun.
The rights and wrongs of what the Chelsea skipper did or did not do are for others to discuss, as private lives should remain just that - private.
Terry must, however, accept that his line of work has placed him squarely in the public eye, with his every move, both on and off the field, dissected in minute detail.
The celebrity-obsessed nature of modern culture now dictates that footballers occupy a standing similar to, if not above, film stars and rock gods.
Such acclaim brings with it great responsibility, and this is a burden which can weigh heavy on the shoulders of those ill-prepared for such a lofty social standing.
Remember, these men have achieved iconic status as a direct result of their ability to be able to kick a piece of leather around a field, not their scientific genius or medical know-how.
Some, not all, lack the personality traits required to handle the fact that they are now regarded as role models to millions of children, and childish adults, across the globe.
They must, therefore, behave in a manner befitting of a global superstar and not regularly drag their reputation kicking and screaming through the metaphorical gutter.
No-one is asking them to be saints, they are only human after all, just to think before they act and to take the time to consider the possible repercussions of their actions.
For those fortunate enough to be charged with the responsibility of leading their country, this train of thought is all the more important.
Terry will have known this, he has been around long enough, and seen enough fellow pros splashed across the front pages, to know that he was expected to uphold a certain standard of behaviour.
The fact that he is alleged to have ignored such expectancy perhaps makes Fabio Capello's decision to strip him of the national armband justified.
Much will undoubtedly be made of the fact that the Italian tactician took just 12 minutes in which to inform Terry of a decision which will have crushed his professional spirit, but this argument appears to be missing the point.
What do people think Capello has been doing since the story broke, walking around with his fingers in his ears refusing to accept that anything of any interest could possibly be occurring outside of his own personal sphere.
No. He will have been weighing up his options, contemplating in depth the pros and cons his imminent decision could have on a pivotal year for English football.
Evidently he could do no right, though, as whatever decision he took would have been vilified by one side or the other.
Those who want to see Terry hung, drawn and quartered would have been left outraged had he been let off the hook, while those who feel the whole matter has been blown out of proportion are now fearing for the short-term future of a side who appeared, at last, to be ready to make a real go of a quest for World Cup glory.
Who is right?
Yes, we expect a lot from our sporting heroes, but is it right that we place unrealistic expectations on those handed the task of leading our troops into battle?
Why does being handed an armband suddenly mean you have to be whiter than white?
The England national side has rarely been free of controversy, so why expect things to change now?
Take a glance through England's strongest starting XI and you will find that most have endured a less than auspicious relationship with the press over recent years.
The next England captain will be picked from that group. Surely that is just going to lead to further problems.
Or is just while in occupation of the captaincy that certain behaviour must be adhered to?
If so, why? Why not just judge everyone in the same way? And let's lay down some ground rules so that we all know where we stand.
If someone steps out of line they will be punished, end of. No complaints, you do the crime, you do the time.
At the moment it appears we have one rule for some and one for another.
In conclusion, it appears that the very public execution of Terry's international career will continue to divide opinion for as long as he remains just another squad player.
We could debate the issue all night, with everyone entitled to their own opinion on the matter.
However, the question remains - should captains be expected to live by different rules to their team-mates? And if so, is that fair?