Mind your manor! Di Matteo urges fans to be pride of Chelsea against QPR
21:30 GMT, 27 April 2012
Roberto Di Matteo has warned Chelsea fans not to drag the club’s name through the mud when John Terry goes head to head with Anton Ferdinand on Sunday.
Chelsea and Queens Park Rangers meet at Stamford Bridge in an encounter that will resurrect the long-running race row between Terry and Ferdinand.
The Chelsea captain is facing criminal charges over allegations that he racially abused Ferdinand during the Premier League clash on October 23. The court case has been adjourned until July 9.
Flashpoint: John Terry and Anton Ferdinand clashed at Loftus Road
It means tomorrow’s clash has the potential to be as eventful on the terraces as it does on the pitch. And Di Matteo pleaded for calm ahead of the potentially explosive clash against their west London rivals.
‘Our supporters are very responsible so I don’t think we’ll have any issues,’ said Di Matteo. ‘But I hope they will behave in the right manner, as they always do, and we can have a good game.’
Chelsea have been forced to condemn their supporters’ conduct on two occasions this season. In November, they branded chants directed at Ferdinand during the Champions League match in Genk as ‘wholly inappropriate’, while Sportsmail revealed that the club had launched an investigation into allegations that one of their fans racially abused Daniel Sturridge in Belgium.
In charge: Roberto Di Matteo prepares his side for their match against QPR
Earlier this month the club said they were ‘embarrassed’ and ‘extremely disappointed’ after supporters disrupted a minute’s silence in memory of the Hillsborough tragedy ahead of the FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham.
Furthermore, a group of Blues fans were the subject of a police investigation over allegations of racist chanting on a train returning from the 0-0 draw at Norwich in January.
Terry will start at Stamford Bridge. The 31-year-old is Chelsea’s only available first-team central defender, with David Luiz and Gary Cahill out with hamstring injuries and Branislav Ivanovic suspended.
Fears are growing that Cahill will miss the Champions League final against Bayern Munich on May 19.
That ensures Terry will be the centre of attention despite the Premier League scrapping the pre-match handshake.
Away blues: Mark Hughes hopes his side can take their home form on the road
On Friday Rangers manager Mark Hughes claimed the Premier League wanted QPR to form a guard of honour and applaud the Chelsea team on to the pitch at Stamford Bridge as an alternative.
Hughes said: ‘They were looking for solutions and saying at one point an alternative would be to form a guard of honour. I was thinking absolutely no chance of that.’
However a Premier League spokesman last night denied the claim, saying: ‘It was never under consideration. The board would never have suggested or agreed to it.’
Hughes added: ‘I don’t think the handshake registers with too many of the players. It’s a little bit of an irritation for them. The Premier League need to clarify their position on it and make sure it’s there for the right reasons.’
Meanwhile, Chelsea are closing in on a 35million deal for 25-year-old Porto striker Hulk.