DONETSK- France coach Laurent Blanc believes Rio Ferdinand was left out of the England Euro 2012 squad for reasons other than soccer, he said on Thursday.
England boss Roy Hodgson omitted the experienced central defender from his original 23 citing a “footballing decision” and again snubbed him when Gary Cahill was ruled out, calling up Liverpool reserve right back Martin Kelly instead.
Critics have said Ferdinand has been dropped because of tensions with fellow central defender John Terry, who has been picked but faces a court case next month after being charged with racially abusing Ferdinand’s brother Anton.
The Chelsea captain has pleaded not guilty over the alleged incident in a match against Queens Park Rangers.
“From afar, I do not think it was a decision based on sport,” Blanc told a news conference ahead of his side meeting England in their Group D opener on Monday.
Blanc, who played with injury-prone Ferdinand for Manchester United in 2002/03, said the decision to omit him was “surprising”.