Monday, May 12, 2014

The retiring Mr Cole

Ashley Cole has retired from international football after being left out of England’s World Cup squad. Is this some peculiar kind of Frankfurt case? In the classic case, we are supposed to agree that an agent is responsible for some action even though it was not possible for that agent to do otherwise. In this case, it was not possible for Ashley to play international football but nevertheless we are asked to believe that he is responsible for his not playing for England because he has retired.

I suppose the chronology is important here. Ashley made himself available for selection but was not selected. After he was not selected he retired.

It certainly can’t be the case, therefore, that he is himself responsible for not playing for England at the 2014 World Cup. But, you might say, the retirement is mean differently: Ashley is saying that he now chooses not to play for England at any point in the future after the World Cup. Surely he can be responsible for that since it is not yet the case that Mr Roy (or whoever takes over) has prevented him from playing for England in, say, the 2016 European championships. So Ashley can be said to be responsible for not playing in the 2016 European championships even if it is a bit odd to say he is responsible for not playing in the 2014 World Cup.

True. But there is an a fortiori argument here. Since Ashley was not selected for the 2014 World Cup a fortiori he will not be selected for the 2016 European championships. (The World Cup is the competition for which Mr Roy will select his preferred squad; Ashley is at a stage of his career when he is now less likely to be selected for each subsequent tournament.)

True, it may be that all other younger left-backs will be injured just before the 2016 tournament and Mr Roy (more likely someone else) will come begging for Ashley (who will then be 35) to play. But no, Ashely will not play because he has chosen to retire. Perhaps. But very very unlikely. And I suspect Ashely knows it.

 So, let’s see this as a bit of face-saving on the part of a player who has played more than a hundred times for his country and has now come to the end of his international career. Whether he chose to end it or not.

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