Hughes lets R's stars decide on handshake Mark Hughes has instructed QPR's players to decide for themselves whether to shake John Terry's hand before Saturday's clash with Chelsea at Loftus Road.
The Premier League confirmed in a statement released this afternoon that the pre-match ritual must take place, guaranteeing an uneasy build-up to the highly-charged west London derby. It will be the first time that Anton Ferdinand and Terry, who has recovered from his ankle injury, will have met on a football pitch since the Chelsea captain's race trial in July. Terry was found not guilty of using a racial slur against Ferdinand, following an incident in the corresponding fixture last October, but he remains the subject of a Football Association investigation over charges that he denies.
Ferdinand is expected to reject handshakes from Terry and Ashley Cole, who testified as a character witness for his England team-mate at the trial. How many players will emulate Ferdinand in a display of solidarity within QPR's squad is unknown and Hughes indicated they will make their own decision.
"We've had a discussion with the players but that's between myself and them. We don't have to broadcast that," said the QPR manager.
"We'll have to wait and see (if Ferdinand shakes Terry's hand). Everybody has a mind of their own and will make a personal decision.
"It's unfortunate that they're in a situation where it's in the public domain. Anton is fine, there's no problem with him."
The rift between Ferdinand and Terry threatens to turn the handshake routine, introduced as part of the Football Association's Respect campaign, into a farce. Should several QPR players also snub Terry or Cole, or both, it could prove embarrassing for the Premier League, who made their decision 24 hours before kick-off. A Premier League statement read: "There has been dialogue between the Premier League, Queens Park Rangers and Chelsea in relation to tomorrow's match between the two clubs.
"All parties understand and acknowledge that the pre-match handshake will go ahead as part of the normal pre-match activity."
Midfielder Samba Diakite is still unavailable for QPR because for personal reasons. Defender Stephane Mbia is in the treatment room with an unspecified injury sustained on international duty for Cameroon. Chelsea's Ashley Cole has shaken off an ankle injury. Marko Marin (hamstring) will be forced to wait a little longer for his debut, while manager Roberto Di Matteo must decide whether to continue to rest fellow winger Juan Mata, who was given a complete break during the international window.
Di Matteo urged QPR's players not to boycott the pre-match handshake. He said: "Hopefully, everybody will focus on football tomorrow and move on. "That's the most important aspect. The Premier League is watched all over the world now and we have to set a good positive standard for everyone watching. "The handshake is just part of that, part of the Respect Campaign. Hopefully, the game will be played in good spirit."