England’s stars are to be issued a code of conduct to bring them in line with other major sporting bodies in an attempt to govern their behavior when they are on and off international duty.
The new disciplinary procedures were outlined to England’s players for the first time when they met on Monday at the new National Football Centre in Burton-Upon-Trent to prepare for tomorrow’s World Cup qualifier against San Marino.
The scheme marks the culmination of eight months of work by Club England managing director Adrian Bevington and his fellow board members — director of football development Trevor Brooking, general secretary Alex Horne and FA chairman David Bernstein — and they stressed the decision was not a knee-jerk reaction to any recent indiscretions by England players such as Ashley Cole.
Chelsea defender Cole has been charged by the FA for labeling the English game’s governing body “a bunch of twats” last week in response to the questioning of his evidence in the John Terry racial abuse hearing.
“Clearly in the past we’ve been hampered by not having a code and therefore some things have been less clear than they might have been. A draft code was approved at a recent board meeting and the first team has now heard in detail what it contains,” Bernstein said.
“It doesn’t contain a list of possible offenses and tariffs because in the real world you never know what is around the corner. But the players are now clear there are real consequences if they don’t [adhere to the code],” he said.
“This week is the first time we have sat down with the players and set out some basic guying principles of what we expect from them as a group. I think we should have been doing this in years gone by and I take part responsibility for that,” Bevington added.
The six-page code of conduct is expected to mirror regulations in place with the Rugby Football Union, England and Wales Cricket Board and individual club regulations that players are already signed up to.
It will be rolled out in the near future and has been agreed by managers of all England teams including senior team coach Roy Hodgson.
The document will cover three main areas: players’ behavior when they are on England duty, their conduct when not with the national team and the process with how any breaches will be dealt with.
The FA hierarchy also briefed their players about behavior ahead of Euro 2012 and were delighted with the response.
Bernstein denied that the modern day players see themselves above the law and explained the need for a code of conduct when he added: “England players should have responsibility. They are incredible role models with very high profiles and this should have been in place years and years ago.”