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Campbell questions Rio snub

Former England defender Sol Campbell has questioned whether there is a "cover-up" with regard to Rio Ferdinand's omission from the Euro 2012 squad.

• Eriksson blasts "smear campaign"
• Rio moves to defuse row

Questions have been raised over Roy Hodgson's decision not to call Manchester United defender Ferdinand into his squad even as injuries limited his options.

Hodgson has always maintained that the omission is down to "footballing reasons", but it has been suggested that Ferdinand has not been included as a result of the legal case surrounding John Terry's alleged racial abuse of his brother, Anton.

Ferdinand's representative recently said that it was "nothing short of disgraceful" that Liverpool youngster Martin Kelly had been favoured as Gary Cahill's replacement, and Campbell feels there is justification for his anger.

In a column for the Guardian newspaper, Campbell wrote: "We have now reached a point where big questions have to be asked over Rio Ferdinand's exclusion from England's squad for Euro 2012, such as what are the real reasons, and why? And, is there a cover-up?

"What we can say for sure is that this entire situation goes back to what did or did not happen between John Terry and Anton Ferdinand last season. That is the only logical conclusion that can be drawn and I for one never bought the argument that Rio had been left out of the original squad for 'footballing reasons'.

"In fairness to Hodgson, he was put in a difficult situation, and we don't know what pressures he may have been under, but his reasons for picking who he did simply made no sense - Rio had played great for Manchester United at the back-end of the season and was a key reason why they finished second in the Premier League and missed out on the title on goal difference alone. He is clearly in top shape and in top form and deserved his England place as much as anyone else."

He added: "A wider issue is if this episode leads to players in the future feeling reluctant to speak out against racism in case it harms their chances of being picked by England. That would be extremely serious and would have to lead to the government getting involved in some way.

"And if it is ever proven true that John Terry was chosen over Rio because of race then I would tell the FA that they can take back my 73 caps and scrub my name out of the record books. I would no longer want to be known as someone who played for England - that would be the end for me."

Paul Ince, a fellow former England star, offered similar sentiments in a column for the Daily Telegraph: "Roy Hodgson has selected John Terry, we know the reason he has not selected Rio so then to come out and say it is football reasons is trying to pull the wool over our eyes, I think.

"It is the way that it has been dealt with that has caused all this commotion. When you are England manager, you have to make hard decisions but, if they had just been up front from the start, and said 'the reason we have left Rio out is we are concerned about the spirit in the England camp with Rio going and John Terry going', we would not be having this disruption now.

"How can it be football reasons? Rio has played more or less every game since January and he has been absolutely outstanding."

The comments come after the chairman of the Football Association, David Bernstein, said the matter would not be discussed until after Euro 2012.

England arrived in Poland on Wednesday ahead of their opening match against France, which takes place on Monday, and Bernstein said: "We're here to talk about the tournament, about the 23 players who are here, and I'm not prepared to discuss - at all - any players who are not here.

"It might be an issue - but it's an issue I'm happy to talk about when the tournament is over maybe. We are here to talk about the tournament and about the future and that's it. We all want to maximise our chances of doing well and we want to focus on what's ahead of us - not what is behind us.

"We'd hope you would join us in that, looking forward to do the very best we can with positive thoughts and not dwelling on all these sort of what are now frankly historical, extraneous issues."

Hodgson is due to hold a press conference on Thursday, when he will undoubtedly be pressed on the issue, and Bernstein added: "I am sure he can speak for himself, but I imagine you'll get the same answer."