Team handshakes to go ahead in QPR-Chelsea match
Team handshakes between Queens Park Rangers and Chelsea will go ahead before Saturday's Premier League match, with John Terry and Anton Ferdinand coming face to face for the first time since a high-profile racism trial.
Terry, the Chelsea and England defender, was cleared in court in July of racially abusing Ferdinand in the corresponding league match at Loftus Road last year.
The buildup to the latest derby between the west London rivals has been dominated by question marks over whether Ferdinand and his teammates will snub Terry in the traditional pre-match ritual.
However, following talks with QPR and Chelsea, the Premier League released a statement on Friday saying: ''All parties understand and acknowledge that the pre-match handshake will go ahead as part of the normal pre-match activity.''
Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo said his team would adhere to the protocol to ''set a positive standard to the millions of people watching across the world.''
The comments of QPR manager Mark Hughes were ambiguous.
Hughes said his players will follow the orders of the Premier League if instructed - but then added that he wasn't going to force Ferdinand or his teammates to shake hands with Terry.
''Everybody has a mind of their own and will make a personal decision,'' Hughes said.
''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 handshakes were scrapped twice for Chelsea-QPR matches last season on legal advice but Terry was acquitted since then.
The former England captain is awaiting the outcome of a Football Association charge in relation to the same case.
''I'm conscious of the fact that every time we play Chelsea, the issue of the handshake clouds everybody's mind and the focus is taken away from a great Premier League game,'' Hughes said.
The issue regarding team handshakes is set to crop up again next week when Liverpool hosts Manchester United in the Premier League at Anfield, in the wake of a racism row between Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra.
Suarez refused to shake hands with Evra before a match at Old Trafford in February, soon after completing an eight-match ban for racially abusing the Manchester United defender in a league game in October.
The Liverpool and Uruguay striker apologized for his actions, which reignited the racial issues that have blighted English soccer this season.