Ferdinand confronts 'haters' over Qatar trip
LONDON (AFP) –
Rio Ferdinand insisted Thursday there was nothing controversial about his decision to fly to Qatar in the week he withdrew from England World Cup qualifying duty.
The 34-year-old Manchester United defender was in the squad selected by England manager Roy Hodgson for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against both San Marino and Montenegro.
But the centre-back withdrew Monday, citing the need to follow a fitness plan produced by Premier League leaders United.
It has since emerged Ferdinand will visit the Aspire training academy in Doha and then work as a television pundit for Gulf-based channel Al Jazeera when England play San Marino on Friday.
Ferdinand told his Twitter followers on Thursday: “1) Flown out for some pre-planned downtime…with a bit of punditry thrown in for a game I would have watched anyway.
“2) No different from what I done on the last 10day international break…thank you guys.
“Haters are gonna hate…also assume everything…although it must be the gospel truth based on assumptions!”
Ferdinand’s initial inclusion in Hodgson’s latest squad was his first involvement with the national side since he won his 81st cap in a Euro 2012 qualifier at home to Switzerland in June 2011.
The defender was controversially left out of the squad for the finals in Poland and Ukraine last year, with Hodgson insisting the decision had been taken purely for “football reasons”.
Fellow central defender John Terry, who was involved in a racism row with Ferdinand’s younger brother Anton at the time but who has since retired from international football, was selected and there was a widespread belief Hodgson had decided it would be too disruptive to have both players in his squad.
But Ferdinand insisted his withdrawal should not be seen as a sign he wanted to call time on his England career.
“One thing I made clear was that my passion and commitment to represent my country is as strong as ever,” he said.
“It is disappointing that I won’t be able to play a part in the upcoming games but I told Roy that I want to continue to be available for England and I look forward to working with him in the future.”