Chelsea's Terry Not Guilty Of Racially Abusing Opposing Player
By Lindsay Fortado and Tariq Panja - Jul 13, 2012 9:40 AM ET
Chelsea captain John Terry was found not guilty of racially abusing Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand during a soccer game last year.
Terry, 31, had faced a fine of as much as 2,500 pounds and possible sanctions from English soccer’s governing body over the accusation he called Ferdinand a “f—ing black c—.”
Judge Howard Riddle made the ruling today after a trial at a London criminal court. Terry, one of English soccer’s most well-known players, testified during the trial he used the words only to repeat something he thought Ferdinand shouted at him.
“No one’s been able to prove” that Terry was lying, Riddle said.
The case shook English soccer from the moment footage of the alleged abuse first surfaced minutes after Chelsea’s 1-0 defeat to QPR on Oct. 23, 2011. Fabio Capello quit as coach of England’s soccer team in February when the Football Association stripped Terry of the national team captaincy after an appeal by Chelsea to delay the trial until after the end of the Premier League soccer season.
The dispute started after the players collided going for the ball, and turned into an altercation after Ferdinand felt Terry had tried to cheat to win a penalty.
The men exchanged profanities and then Ferdinand said he gestured at Terry, cursed again, and referenced an affair Terry had with former teammate Wayne Bridge’s ex-girlfriend.
Terry, who earns as much as 150,000 pounds ($232,000) per week, denied a suggestion that he reacted to the reference to the affair. He said he’s faced abuse on a “weekly” basis from rival fans and players since a judge in 2010 lifted an injunction against reporting details of the affair.
Terry said he heard Ferdinand say, “calling me a black c– -?” to him and thought he was accusing him of already having made the comment. Terry repeated it back in a sarcastic way and added an additional insult, he testified.
Ferdinand said he hadn’t realized Terry had racially abused him during the game or when Chelsea defender Ashley Cole called him to speak with Terry in the away locker room after the match. He said he’d agreed with Terry that a racial epithet wasn’t directed at him because he hadn’t heard or seen it until a former girlfriend showed it to him on her mobile phone after the match, and after he’d spoken with Terry.
Ferdinand didn’t make the initial complaint to police.
“It was our view that this was not ‘banter’ on the football pitch and that the allegation should be judged by a court,” Alison Saunders, Chief Crown Prosecutor for London, said after the judgment. The magistrate “agreed that Mr. Terry had a case to answer, but having heard all of the evidence he acquitted Mr. Terry of a racially aggravated offense. That is justice being done.”
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