Di Matteo criticises Terry
JOHN TERRY has finally been criticised in public by his employers, Chelsea, for his use of racially abusive language in the infamous confrontation with Anton Ferdinand, with the manager, Roberto Di Matteo, saying the defender had damaged the club’s image and let everybody down.
Terry, who will remain as Chelsea’s captain, confirmed in a statement on Thursday that he would not appeal against the English FA’s decision to suspend him from the next four domestic matches, in light of the damning findings of its independent regulatory panel.
There was also an apology from Terry for the “language used” against Ferdinand, the Queens Park Rangers defender, at Loftus Road on October 23rd of last year, even if there was no acceptance that he had used the words in an insulting way.
Di Matteo has often cut an isolated figure in public, forced to defend the indefensible against a backdrop of angry and hostile headlines. His Friday lunchtime press conference, ahead of today’s derby at Tottenham Hotspur, was the latest case in point, when he found himself fending off uncomfortable questions.
Di Matteo, though, did criticise Terry’s behaviour for the first time. “The image of the club has suffered from this issue,” Di Matteo continued. “There’s no denying that. We try to do everything in our power to maintain high standards with the club’s employees and supporters. People make mistakes. He has apologised and is being punished. I think he realises he let himself down and the club in that day and moment. He realises his language was not appropriate.”
Terry’s ban was supplemented by a €270,000 fine from the FA and “internal disciplinary action” from Chelsea which they have refused to disclose. They argue as it is an HR matter, they are within their rights to keep it in-house.
Terry is available for Tuesday’s Champions League tie at Shakhtar Donetsk; Di Matteo was asked on 10 occasions whether Terry would retain the armband but he would only say that “we will have to wait and see on Tuesday”, or words to the same effect.
His stance made it sound as if there was a doubt in his mind or that of the owner, Roman Abramovich, and the board. Di Matteo appeared to reinforce the impression when he ventured that “you hurt people when you fine them but it’s a deeper issue. I’m not sure a fine eradicates the behaviour.”
“It will be my judgment on the player, if I do decide to select him because it’s appropriate to select him for the team. And as captain.”
The statement Chelsea released on Thursday did not accept that Terry had directed his words at Ferdinand in an insulting and racially abusive way, which begged the question as to what the club had punished Terry for. Their version is that Terry’s use of the offending language was unacceptable in any context, even if they did not seem to want to judge that context, which has been at the very heart of the case.
Di Matteo said he had no regrets about standing by Terry. “I believe the evidence he gave to the magistrates’ court is exactly what happened on the day,”
Mark Hughes, the QPR manager, confirmed that Ferdinand had not received a personal apology from Terry. “I think John Terry feels that he hasn’t done anything wrong, for him to apologise would perhaps be an admission of guilt so I wouldn’t have thought he would be prepared to do that.”