Photo by Kirsty Wigglesworth
LONDON -- John Terry was dropped as England's soccer captain by coach Fabio Capello on Friday, a week after allegations became public that the defender had an affair with the former girlfriend of teammate Wayne Bridge.
Rio Ferdinand will take over as captain as England prepares for its World Cup opener against the United States on June 12. Ferdinand, who had been vice captain, has been injured for much of this season.
Capello told Terry of the decision in a brief meeting at Wembley Stadium, a week after the married Chelsea star lost a High Court battle to ban publication of details of an alleged relationship with Vanessa Perroncel, the mother of Bridge's child.
"After much thought, I have made the decision that it will be best for me to take the captaincy away from John Terry," Capello said in a statement. "As a captain with the team, John Terry has displayed extremely positive behavior. However, I have to take into account other considerations and what is best for all of the England squad. What is best for all of the England team has inspired my choice."
The 29-year-old Terry had been appointed captain by Capello in August 2008. Given the prominence of soccer in England, the closest equivalent in the United States would involve the Olympic basketball team.
"I fully respect Fabio Capello's decision," said Terry, who remains as Chelsea's captain. "I will continue to give everything for England."
Bundesliga chief executive officer Christian Seifert, in Miami for Sunday's Super Bowl, praised Capello's move.
"The closer you get to the World Cup, the more nervous the situation in each country," he said. "I think it was good to make a fast decision."
Also Friday, Perroncel said she will not accept media offers to sell her story.
"I have a 3-year-old son, and he is my main concern," the French model said.
Her spokesman, Max Clifford, said "Vanessa would also like to add that she finds it very sad that John Terry has been dropped as England captain."
Ferdinand, a 31-year-old Manchester United central defender, has played in just four of England's last 12 matches. He missed the 2004 European Championship while serving an eight-month suspension for failing to show up for a drug test at United's training ground and is serving a four-game ban at the club level for elbowing Hull's Craig Fagan.
Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard, also slowed by injuries this season, will move up to vice captain.
"When I chose John Terry as captain, I also selected a vice captain and also named a third choice. There is no reason to change this decision," Capello said. "I would like to take this opportunity to thank the FA, particularly Lord David Triesman and Ian Watmore for allowing me to make this decision in my own time and in the best interest of the team."
England's next game is a home exhibition against African champion Egypt on March 3. A big challenge for Capello is figuring out whether Terry can be on the same team as Bridge, who is Ashley Cole's backup at left back.
Bridge is set to return for Manchester City on Saturday at Hull after two months out with a knee injury. City manager Roberto Mancini told Capello's assistant Franco Baldini earlier this week that Bridge is going through a time tough, but is ready to play.
"I said it is not a good moment in his head, but it's not a problem on the training ground," Mancini said. "It's important he can play now and not think about the other person."