FIFA president Sepp Blatter has questioned the validity of Manchester United's results since discovering Rio Ferdinand was playing on despite being charged for missing a drugs test.
'He cannot play until the case is settled. The case is not settled,' Blatter said on Saturday. [+]
At the outset it is my view that sportsmen should be subject to the same rules as anyone else. Hence, assuming there is no specific rule requiring suspension pending inquiry, Rio should be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
However, my main point is that the English FA has not handled this issue adequately. Firstly, they have taken far too long to make the formal charge and convene a hearing into the charge thereby giving rise to the statements made by Sepp Blatter.
Secondly, notwithstanding my initial statement above, the FA has already chosen the path it wishes to travel over this issue, ie: that Rio be suspended from playing for England until the matter is resolved.
In this sense the FA's inaction over his continued appearance for Manchester United is clearly contradictory to their initial stance on the matter. In my view it is this which has prompted the outburst from Sepp Blatter.
The FA's action smacks of partiality to unarguably the biggest club in England. If the FA and indeed English football as a whole is to retain any credibility then the charge must be heard and decided without delay and without fear of the threatened legal action by Manchester United.
Blatter has put in words what most of us have been wondering: how can you skip a drugs test and be allowed to keep on playing. England did the right thing leaving him out of the national team.
It's a pity Manchester United didn't show the same fortitude. OK, Ferdinand may not have been taking drugs but now nobody will ever know the answer because he missed the test.
There will always be a suspicion, no matter what the outcome of the FA hearing, that he skipped the drugs test for a reason.
Geoffrey Vine, New Zealand
One way or another it seems, Rio Ferdinand is going to be crucified. The FA already look like a bunch of buffoons as it is. Witness the Alan Smith debacle, now after all that has happened with that, they are bound and determined to save face and so have now charged him, after the police realised that there was no case.
Certainly they will be doing everything in their power to make Ferdinand pay for their own shortcomings.
Sepp Blatter now, for the first time since all of this blew up has decided that Rio should not be playing. A straw that the FA will undoubtedly grasp at should they feel it would help divert questions and attention from their own ineptitude.
The FA has never at anytime said that Rio Ferdinand should not be playing for his club team in any matches whatsoever. Nor until now has FIFA made any mention of it.
So to now suggest that the eight or nine games he has played in could possibly be null and void, would be ludicrous and should the FA concur with FIFA, then the premier league may as well fold and Mark Palios step down to let Sepp Blatter assume the mantle of resident idiot!
I totally agree with Mr. Blatter that Rio should not be playing until the case is settled.
In my opinion, the English FA is sending the message that :
1. It is ok to ignore the drug test and to take it at another time.
2. We are a weak instituition and we are very afraid of the big clubs like Man Utd.
3. We are inefficient, so what?
My other question. Man Utd and their players asked the FA to be fair to Rio. By applying the delay tactic and playing Rio in all their games, is Man Utd being fair to the FA and the other clubs? Gary Neville talked about principles, where are the principles in this case? All I can see from Man Utd's action is self interest.
Paul Tan, Singapore
Blatter's comments on Rio Ferdinand are a total denial of justice. Surely the principle of the law is that someone is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Blatter's comments if anything merely prejudice the case because he is virtually saying that the FA Must ban Ferdinand.
When Ferguson makes an observation about the treatment of Arsenal's players, he is dragged before the FA - but when Blatter speaks, no one is doing the same to him. If he wishes to make comments, he should make them in private to the FA and not compromise a case.
Roger Birch, Canberra, Australia
Hang on, Rio is guilty of missing a drugs test. There is no doubt or presumption of innocence here. He either took the test, or he didn't. Simple. The only question remaining is the penalty. He should have been stood down immediately, and his penalty, whatever it is, backdated to the time he was suspended.
Spare me the "Oh, I forgot" excuse, if Rio lived in the world I live in, drugs in sport is the single biggest issue facing sport today, surely he or his management team could have "remembered". If I was on his salary, I would not be as careless.
Bill Frendo, Sydney
The hypocrisy of Sepp Blatter questioning the validity of Manchester United's results and pontificating about the credibility of FIFA if Ferdinand plays while under investigation.
Sepp has a short memory. It is not that long ago that he was under investigation at FIFA. Did he step down while the investigation went on? Did he hell. He continued to parade himself as president of FIFA declaring his innocence until proven guilty.
What's good enough for the goose.... Sepp?
Rio Ferdinand has yet to be found guilty of anything. He may well be in the end. But until then I thought we lived in a democratic world where people were punished after being found guilty.
Marc Weatherhead, Sydney
Am I the only one to believe in innocence until proven guilt? If it's taken Blatter this long to learn that Rio is still playing, what else has he failed to observe during the matter?
Perhaps he is unaware that Rio submitted to and passed a drugs test only 30 hours later. Uneducated comments from an uneducated man it would seem.
If Rio is found to be guilty, then by all means ban him if that is the punishment, otherwise keep to wrecking world football Blatter or better yet, retire!
The FA is bad enough as it is with that misguided Palios in charge. It doesn't need to try and digest your predictably inane 'wisdom'. When you've got FIFA smelling like a bunch of roses, then come and talk down to the FA!
Oh and while my high horse is in full swing, give Oceania its single automatic WC entry spot back !
Adam, Sydney, Australia
".....like a puppet on a string," Go for it Sepp, you just do what you want to over the Rio Ferdinand doping fiasco. If it happens to be what the South American Confederation want you to do - it must be purely coincidental....eh?
We wouldn't want FIFA's credibility to suffer either!
Alicia Pike, Gold Coast
Am I the only one that is tired of seeing Ronaldo consistently voted amongst the three best players on Earth?
While I cannot deny the man's talent (his game against Man Utd was uncharacteristically up tempo), his questionable work ethic and childish attitude definitely make him the laziest of the Galacticos, despite being the highest scoring.
The FIFA WPOTY award, a great marketing tool if there ever was one, needs to look past the big names and hefty salaries and reward those who genuinely have had a solid impact at their respective teams.
Ronaldo's goals at Real Madrid have been good, but Pavel Nedved's tackles, steals, runs, crosses, passes, assists and goals (and one unfortunate yellow card) for Juventus proved a world of difference, especially when their teams faced each other.
Here's to hoping that FIFA does the right thing in December and gives the award to Thierry Henry, a player who has been disgracefully ignored in the past, instead of Ronaldo, a player who has been disgracefully acknowledged!
Miguel Risco, Lima, Peru
Thierry Henry deserves the award for FIFA World Player of the Year. He is the total package striker, unselfish, creates his own chances, stunning pace, powerful shot, all you would want.
The great thing about him is that he was converted into a forward from a winger, and since he has been at Highbury, he has over 100 goals for his club, and has been a vital piece of their success.
You can't argue that he doesn't deserve this award, and its about time he was nominated for it.
Where is Beckham in the final three for POTY?
In a year with a major tournament, like the World Cup or the EURO competition, one expects that the award should got to a member of the winning team, usually the top scorer, but in 2003 there hasn't been anything outstanding.
Expect, that is, for Beckham's move to Real. And he has performed brilliantly. Not only did he win the Premiership with United, score two goals in the exciting encounter with real in May, but everyone has been lauding his performances, assists and occasional goals for Real. Twice runner-up I think he deserves it.
It seems the award continues to be given to big names who have won it before, Zidane and Ronaldo, and ignores those like Raul and Beckham. My hope then is that since these two are not in the running, at least Henry, who should have got it last year, gets it this time.
Ronaldo? What a joke - undoubtedly FIFA needed a token South American player in the mix - can't fathom another reason why Ronaldo would be picked.
How about Raul, van Nistelrooy, Valeron - clearly higher impact players in 2003. No problem with Henry and Zidane - both are well deserved.
Who should win it? - Zidane hands down - what a complete player.
Pavel Nedved not being voted in the top three in the world is a sign of very poor judgment by the coaches. He was instrumental in everything Juventus did last season and was by far the most influential player in the UCL.
As with Ballack missing out last season, after also being the most influential player at the World Cup and in the UCL, it proves the FIFA Player of The Year is based largely on reputations not actual performances.
Henry deserves to be there however, and should win.
Martin Nicholson, Sydney
Thierry Henry should not only be in the final three, but should win it easily. There is no denying that Ronaldo is a more potent striker, and Zidane has better ball skills, but is there any other player in the world that can combine both like Henry.
I am a life long Arsenal fan so my opinion's might be viewed as biased, but it is generally accepted that if he didn't have such a bad World Cup he would have won it last year.
Zidane & Ronaldo are both incredible players (though the latter often seems like he's not trying) I don't think there is a more deserving than Henry.