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Calls for Terry to be axed as England skipper

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LONDON: England captain John Terry faced mounting calls to be stripped of the armband on Thursday after the Chelsea star’s trial on racial abuse charges was delayed until July.

Anti-racism campaigners, footballers and media commentators said Terry should be replaced before the Euro 2012 championships to avoid creating a “toxic” England dressing room during the tournament.

Terry faces criminal charges of racially abusing Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand during a Premier League match last October. Terry, 31, strongly denies the allegations and has vowed to clear his name.

England manager Fabio Capello had previously resisted calls for Terry to be ditched as captain, insisting after consultation with senior Football Association officials that the defender was “innocent until proven guilty.”

However the prospect of Terry’s case dragging on until the summer has led to calls for the FA to take decisive action before the Euros kick off in June.

Damian Collins MP, a member of the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, has voiced his opinion on Twitter. “John Terry should stand aside as captain until the case is resolved, and any doubt either way removed,” he said.

The call was backed by Piara Powar, the executive director of European football’s anti-discrimination body—Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE). “Innocent until proven guilty,” he Tweeted. “But should John Terry remain as England capt through the Euros? I can’t see how he can.”

Reading striker and radio pundit Jason Roberts Tweeted: “Believe me...the Dressing room at the Euros will be TOXIC unless the correct decision is made..!!!”

The FA have so far declined to comment on the claims although questions surrounding Terry are certain to remain in the headlines. Last weekend the pre-match handshakes were cancelled when Chelsea faced QPR in the FA Cup amid reports that Ferdinand and his Rangers team-mates planned to snub Terry at the ritual.

The Times said that the FA faced a “fiendish” dilemma in deciding how to treat Terry’s case but stated “...at the end of it all, there will still be the same nagging thought that it is wrong for England to feature a player at Euro 2012 who is facing a charge of racially abusing another footballer.”