Ethics Hero: England World Cup Team Coach Fabio Capello

Just when I find myself staring disconsolately at the vast expanse of snow, thinking about how futile it is to try to sweep back the ethical apathy and self-serving tolerance for bad conduct that is burying our values as a blizzard buries a garden, along comes Fabio Capello, from the unlikely world of soccer, to give me hope.

Capello gets it. Mere days from his team’s embarking on the annual World Cup quest, he sacked his star Defender, John Terry, as team captain. Terry’s offense? If you haven’t heard, you’re no soccer fan. A high-profile star, husband and recently elected “Dad of the Year” (thanks to three-year-old twins), Terry was revealed as Tiger Woods, Jr., with a twist: the underwear model he was trysting with was also the former main squeeze of a team mate, Wayne Bridge, and was the mother of Bridge’s child.

Capello didn’t  join the chorus of the Defender’s defenders, arguing that his “personal conduct” didn’t effect his play on the field, or the cynics who argued that we should expect nothing less from highly paid, testosterone-addled sports celebrities, who are no more appropriate role models than, say, former North Carolina senators who run for Vice-President. No, Capello gets it. He gets that a leader—any leader, whether in sports, business, government or the household— cannot betray those he is supposed to lead professionally or personally, and that Terry’s conduct in his private time made him difficult to trust as a leader, a team mate, or a friend.

“After much thought, I have made the decision that it will be best for me to take the captaincy away from John Terry,” Capello said in his statement on the matter. “As a captain with the team, John Terry has displayed extremely positive behaviour. However, I have to take into account other considerations and what is best for all of the England squad. What is best for all of the England team has inspired my choice.”

His decision is right one for the English team, and also a lesson in leadership. Perhaps Capello can be persuaded to enter politics in San Francisco, which could use a similar lesson. Its ever-popular mayor, Gavin Newsom, continues to be a mayoral rock star there despite admitting in 2007 that he had carried on an affair with the wife of his campaign manager, friend, and longtime close adviser, Alex Tourk, precipitating that marriage’s collapse and Tourk’s resignation. San Francisco being San Francisco, the vast majority of citizens, upwards of 80% according to polls at the time, just shrugged and said, “Whatever.” This is why some people think John Edwards can make a comeback.

The snow is white, cold and deep. Come on over, Fabio. We need you.

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