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By ESPN Staff

Rio to escape censure over Bridge ruckus

Rio Ferdinand seems certain to escape any formal sanction over his part in last season's 'Battle of Stamford Bridge'. Reports have emerged of a possible four-match ban for the Manchester United defender - which could rule him out of England's friendly with the Czech Republic on August 20 and scupper his chances of being appointed as Fabio Capello's new captain. Given Ferdinand has already suffered the misery of serving an eight-month ban for a missed drugs test in 2004, it would be the worst kind of news possible for the 29-year-old Londoner and somewhat bizarre given it was United's complaints about the treatment of their players that led to the inquiry in the first place. Ferdinand apologised after accidentally kicking a female steward in frustration following his side's defeat. However, sources close to the investigation into events that took place at Chelsea immediately after the key showdown, which finished in acrimony as the home side won thanks to a hotly disputed late penalty, have been left bemused by the speculation surrounding Ferdinand. For, while the official report is still being compiled, there has been no suggestion Ferdinand will face any penalty, let alone miss the opening four matches of the season. And, although such a move would be bad news for United, who are already without Cristiano Ronaldo for an extended period following the winger's recent ankle operation, even in the unlikely event of Ferdinand being punished, it would not affect his availability for England. It has been pointed out that Alan Smith, Lee Bowyer, Jonathan Woodgate and Ferdinand's major rival for the captaincy, John Terry, have been deliberately overlooked for selection by England in recent times. However, in those instances, it was a policy decision taken by the FA until police or court action against the individuals concerned had been concluded. Similarly, there is no link with Ferdinand's own lengthy ban because it covered all football, both for club and country. It means that whatever the outcome of the FA's investigation Ferdinand will be available for the Czech Republic game, before which Capello intends to name his new skipper, having tried out four men for the post. The FA meanwhile are continuing their own investigations into the Stamford Bridge clash, although as yet, no timescale for a definitive decision has been reached.

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