One year on -- John Terry finally says sorry
John Terry will retain the Chelsea captaincy and could lead the side as soon as next Tuesday after he finally apologised for racially abusing Anton Ferdinand almost a year ago and announced he would not appeal against the four-match ban handed down by the English FA.
Terry's belated admission that his use of the phrase "f****** black c***" was "not acceptable" came 360 days after he uttered the words, but his contrition failed to stem deepening anger among anti-racism campaigners and senior black players at the official response to the case.
There was also anger at Chelsea's response, which saw the club announce that it had taken disciplinary action against Terry in addition to the domestic ban he will now serve, but declined to reveal the details.
Lord Ouseley, chairman of 'Kick It Out,' whose annual week of action starts this weekend, said Chelsea should have made the punishment transparent and called on the club to help heal the rifts in the game opened by the affair.
Reading striker Jason Roberts was also highly critical of Chelsea, and threatened a boycott of 'Kick It Out' because of his frustration with the organisation.
Terry is understood to have been fined up to two weeks' wages by the club, a maximum of £440,000 in addition to the £220,000 FA fine, but he will retain the captain's armband and will not miss any more than four matches.
After accepting the FA ban yesterday, the deadline for any appeal, Terry will now miss tomorrow's Premier League match at Tottenham, back-to-back matches against Manchester United in the league and the Capital One Cup, and a league game against Swansea.
In between, he will be available for two Champions League games against Shaktar Donetsk, with the first in Ukraine next week. The timing of the suspension means he will also avoid playing against United's Rio Ferdinand, who has made clear his upset at Terry's treatment of his brother.
The FA have also confirmed that Ashley Cole has been fined £90,000 over his foul-mouthed Twitter attack on the organisation after the Chelsea defender admitted a charge of making a comment that was improper and/or brought the game into disrepute.
Cole called the FA a "bunch of t***s" on the social networking site after an independent regulatory commission of the governing body investigating the Terry racial abuse case had cast doubt on Cole's evidence.
In a statement Terry apologised to "everyone" for his use of the offensive phrase, but did not specifically mention Anton Ferdinand and restated his "disappointment" at the FA finding him guilty. He was cleared of criminal charges by a magistrate's court in July.
"I want to take this opportunity to apologise to everyone for the language I used in the game against Queens Park Rangers last October," Terry said. "Although I'm disappointed with the FA judgment, I accept that the language I used, regardless of the context, is not acceptable on the football field or, indeed, in any walk of life.
"My response was below the level expected by Chelsea Football Club, and by me and it will not happen again."
Chelsea welcomed Terry's decision not to appeal. "The Board has conducted its own investigation into the matter and considered the various issues involved," read a club statement. "The Board has taken further disciplinary action in addition to the four-match suspension and £220,000 fine imposed by the FA. In accordance with our long-standing policy, that disciplinary action will remain confidential."
Lord Ouseley welcomed Terry's apology, but said it had come 11 months too late and called on Chelsea to play a part in repairing what he called "a hugely damaging period" in the English game.
He added: "A personal apology last October would have clinched it and saved everybody the pain they have gone through. It has been intolerable for Anton Ferdinand and his family, with the hurtful and abusive messages they have been subjected to."
Lord Ouseley also criticised the delay in the FA disciplinary process, saying it had "screwed" 'Kick It Out,' as many players believed they had a part in the drawn-out process.
Roberts said Chelsea should have considered harsher punishment for such a high-profile employee. "If you use that sort of language in the workplace, what sanction would you expect to be given? I don't know. You say about fans saying it on the sidelines and what would happen to them?
"The fact someone is such a huge part of a club, you have to make a decision on that and, as I said, it's come a year too late and we'll wait and see what the authorities further have to do about it.
"Certainly a four-game ban is nowhere near what people would expect for something like this. I guess it's up to Chelsea to do what's right."
(© Daily Telegraph, London)