Terry and Ferdinand questioned by FA over alleged racist incident
The investigation into John Terry’s alleged racist abuse of Anton Ferdinand took a major step forward on Friday when the England captain was interviewed by Football Association officials.
Staff from the FA’s governance and regulation department visited Terry at Chelsea’s Cobham training ground and questioned the defender over what he said to Ferdinand in the 85th minute of Sunday’s 1-0 defeat against Queens Park Rangers.
Terry has denied directing a racist slur at Ferdinand and has said that he responded aggressively only to say that he had not used the offending words.
Video footage is alleged to have shown Terry mouthing the words “******* black ****” at Ferdinand but, according to Chelsea sources, the full context of the sentence was him denying having used such language.
It is understood that Terry stuck by the various statements he has released since Sunday during a lengthy interview yesterday.
Ferdinand was also interviewed for two hours by FA officials on Friday and reiterated that he wanted a comprehensive investigation into the allegation against Terry.
The QPR defender did not hear what was said to him during last Sunday’s match but, after watching footage of the incident and reading Terry’s explanation, has pushed for a formal inquiry.
Ferdinand is understood to have told the investigators that he did not accuse Terry of making a racist remark. Terry acknowledged that in his statement on Sunday, but said that there was a misunderstanding.
Other players who were near to the incident have also given evidence this week while the FA have been studying all available video footage.
The statements from yesterday’s interviews will be passed to the FA’s legal team and will form part of their assessment as to whether there is sufficient evidence to merit any charge.
The decision for Terry to meet with FA officials just 24 hours before today’s lunchtime kick-off against Arsenal underlines a desire on all sides to complete the investigation swiftly.
Terry’s attitude was that he is ready to cooperate with the inquiry and wants to clear his name as quickly as possible. Chelsea travel to Belgium on Monday for their Champions League fixture against Genk, meaning that it would have been difficult for the FA to speak with him at the beginning of next week.
There will also be a desire to get the investigation concluded before the next England squad is announced a week tomorrow.
Rio Ferdinand, the brother of Anton, is not expected to be selected but it could still overshadow the Wembley friendlies against Spain and Switzerland if the Terry investigation is ongoing.
Fabio Capello, the England manager, intends to select Terry if the issue is not resolved by the time of the Spain game in two weeks.
Experts with knowledge of the FA’s governance and regulation team believe that it is realistic for the investigation to be completed within the next week. As well as the FA inquiry, the Metropolitan Police are still conducting an assessment of the incident.
Despite yesterday’s interviews, both Anton Ferdinand and Terry are considered to be in the right frame of mind for their respective London derbies this weekend. Chelsea face Arsenal today at Stamford Bridge while QPR play Tottenham tomorrow at White Hart Lane.
Neil Warnock, the QPR manager, confirmed that he met Ferdinand on Tuesday to discuss the situation, but refused to comment on the detail of the conversation.
He did, however, admit that he only became aware of the incident long after QPR had completed their 1-0 victory over Chelsea. “It was way after the game,” Warnock said.
“I was with my wife at the C Club [at Loftus Road] and someone mentioned it as we went out. My daughter, who is very experienced with technology, was watching it within two minutes of getting in the car.
“It’s out of my hands now. We have to wait and see what develops.
Anton is playing very, very well. I’d think he is probably one of the best centre-backs in the country at the moment.
“I can honestly say it hasn’t really [been a distraction] as we just have to focus on Spurs. Anything involving major players is always a talking point.
“You have to deal with every situation as you see fit. I had a quiet word with Joey [Barton] after the Wolves carry-on and a quiet word with Anton on Tuesday when we came back in. Anton’s stressed what he feels and we have to let that continue.
“The FA have made it quite clear they don’t expect us to make statements and quite rightly so. The English justice system has to be adhered to.”
Jay Bothroyd said that his team-mate was coping well with the situation. “Anton has been very professional,” Bothroyd said. “He’s not shouting about it or causing a scene. He’s sticking to his job, which is training and playing for QPR. He has been very focused on that.”