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Blanc stirs up Rio debate

08 June 2012, 07:50

 Donetsk - France coach Laurent Blanc on Thursday stirred up the increasingly fractious debate over the non-inclusion of Rio Ferdinand in England's Euro 2012 squad by saying it was for non sporting reasons.

Both the Football Association and England coach Roy Hodgson - whose side play France in their opener on Monday - have been at pains to insist that the exclusion of the 33-year-old former England captain was down to fears over his fitness.

However, many believe the Manchester United star's non-selection is more to prevent a split in the England squad as fellow centreback John Terry is facing a trial after the tournament for racially abusing Ferdinand's brother Anton in a Premier League game last season.

Terry was stripped of the captaincy because of the impending trial but was selected in the squad.

Blanc, who played alongside Ferdinand at Manchester United from 2001-2003, took the view that Ferdinand was not in Poland because of the off the field reasons.

"I know Rio Ferdinand well, I think that the choice was not taken for sporting reasons.

"But I am not going to immerse myself in the England team's affairs, it's not my job, and it is not my role."

However, it didn't stop Blanc from going on to pay a handsome tribute to his former team-mate.

"Rio Ferdinand is a very good player even if he is approaching the end of his career," said Blanc, himself a former masterful sweeper and centreback.

"It really was surprising to not see him selected with all the injured players they have had in this area. But I am not in the coach's place.

"If he made a choice, it is because he thinks he has made the right call."



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