England manager Roy Hodgson has made the astonishing claim that he hopes the Football Association clears John Terry of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand.
Last month, Terry was found not guilty of a racially aggravated public order offence by Westminster Magistrates Court.
The case centred on a clash between Terry and Ferdinand at Loftus Road last October and painted football in a very murky light.
However, since then, the FA have decided the Chelsea skipper has a case to answer under their own lesser burden of proof, although it has been suggested the hearing will not take place until the end of next month.
That time scale splits England’s first four World Cup qualifiers.
As Hodgson was free to choose Terry for today’s friendly with Italy in Switzerland had he wished, there would be no reason by the tough-tackling defender would be barred from facing Moldova and Ukraine at the beginning of September.
If Terry was found guilty though, his presence in the subsequent games against San Marino and Poland would be in jeopardy, whilst there would doubtless be calls for his entire international career to be brought to an end.
Hodgson has already declared an intention to select Terry unless he receives lengthy suspension.
In Berne this evening though, he went further, leaving him open to the accusation of influencing the entire Football Association disciplinary process.
“I’m not prepared to discuss John,” said Hodgson initially.
“It’s a matter which is really, as far as I am concerned, working for the FA, sub judice.
“Everything I say can be misinterpreted.
“As far as I am concerned he has a case to answer with the FA and I’ll wait and see what happens.”
Asked about his previous comments in an interview with Sky Sports News last Friday, Hodgson went on: “I’m hoping, and I make no secret of that, the case will take its course, that John, hopefully, will be freed as he was freed in a court of law, and will carry on playing for England.
“That’s my hope.
“What will happen, I have no idea.
“As a member of the FA, it’s a sub judice situation and I’m not prepared to say any more.
“I thought John did well in the Euros and I’d like to keep using him, but this is a case which is way out of my hands. John understands that.
“All I can do like many of his supporters, I suppose, is just hope he gets freed and can continue to play.”
Given he twice referred to the sensitivities of the matter, it is remarkable Hodgson went so far.
And whilst it can be pointed out Hodgson has no influence on the Football Association in terms of disciplinary matters, it is hardly a benefit for the England manager to be talking in such strident terms about such a tricky subject.
It will hardly go down well with the Ferdinand camp either.
The reasons for Rio Ferdinand’s omission from the Euro 2012 squad were questioned by the players’ representative Jamie Moralee in May, when he told Press Association Sport the decision was “nothing short of disgraceful.”
Hodgson has continued to insist Ferdinand did not go to Poland and Ukraine for football reasons and the Manchester United defender, whilst not retiring from England duty, believes his England days are at an end.
So once again, the FA find themselves on the back foot in a case that has dragged on for almost 10 months, with no sign yet of any resolution.