Tuesday 24 April 2018

Video: Terry cleared of racist abuse but now faces probe by football bosses

Chelsea footballer John Terry leaving Westminster Magistrates' Court yesterday after he was cleared of racially abusing
Anton Ferdinand
Chelsea footballer John Terry leaving Westminster Magistrates' Court yesterday after he was cleared of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand

Martin Beckford in London

JOHN Terry faces investigation by the football authorities despite being cleared of racist abuse by a court yesterday.

The former England captain was found not guilty of a racially aggravated public order offence after magistrates said there was doubt over the context of what he said to rival Anton Ferdinand during a Premiership match last season.

He argued that he was responding to a wrongful accusation by the other player, and Senior District Judge Howard Riddle said no one heard exactly what he had said nor could expert lip-readers work it out.

But the Chelsea defender's professional reputation remains in doubt as the Football Association is now under pressure to start disciplinary proceedings over the incident, which would involve a lower burden of proof to that used in a criminal court.

Last year the sport's governing body banned Liverpool striker Luis Suarez for eight matches and fined him £40,000 (€51,000) for racist abuse.

Lord Ouseley, chairman of the anti-discrimination Kick It Out campaign, said: "Kick It Out notes the decision reached and awaits the pronouncements from the FA to any subsequent investigation into the matter."

It means Mr Terry (31) faces further upheaval in a year in which he was stripped of the England captaincy for the second time, over the racism allegations, but went on to play at the European Championship ahead of Rio Ferdinand,the brother of his alleged victim.

Westminster Magistrates' Court heard the two players had clashed in the penalty box at Loftus Road towards the end of the match on October 23 last year between Queen's Park Rangers and Chelsea

Mr Ferdinand made a "fist-pumping gesture" towards Mr Terry "accompanied by abuse" about the fact that the Chelsea player had had an affair with a team-mate's girlfriend.

Mr Terry admitted that in response he had let off a volley of swearwords, including "f------ black c---", but insisted he was just disputing a claim by Mr Ferdinand that he had earlier used the racist insult against him.

Both prosecution and defence called lip-readers to study footage, but they were unable to detect all the words spoken or the way in which they were used.

Mr Ferdinand denied he had made this allegation against Mr Terry, but the judge pointed out the QPR defender had "lost control" and angrily insulted him "over and over again", and had later failed to give a full account of what he said.

Unclear

The judge said Mr Ferdinand was "brave" to give evidence but added that he had a "doubt" over whether or not he missed the "crucial comment", given that he was looking at Mr Terry at the time of their spat.

The judge said it was unclear what Mr Terry and Mr Ferdinand had said to each other in the dressing room afterwards.

It was "highly unlikely" that Mr Ferdinand had accused Mr Terry of using a racist term against him, but it was "possible" that Mr Terry believed this to be the case.

"It is, therefore, possible that what he said was not intended as an insult, but rather as a challenge to what he believed had been said to him. In those circumstances, there being a doubt, the only verdict the court can record is one of not guilty." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

James Lawton: See sport

Irish Independent

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