Terry hearing begins tomorrow

Sun, Sep 23, 2012, 01:00

Soccer:John Terry will attempt to clear his name once and for all this week as an independent English Football Association panel decides whether they believe he directed a racist slur towards Anton Ferdinand.

Press Association Sport understands tomorrow will see the start of Chelsea captain Terry’s personal hearing to answer an FA charge he used “abusive and/or insulting words” that “included a reference to the ethnic origin and/or colour and/or race of Anton Ferdinand” in last October’s Barclays Premier League clash at QPR.

Terry has already categorically denied the charge and is set to do so again in person tomorrow — at what is said to be a secret London location — more than two months after being found not guilty at Westminster Magistrates Court of calling Ferdinand a “f****** black c***”.

The two players could come face to face again as the English FA panel considers the case, barely a week after Ferdinand refused to shake Terry’s hand before the latest west London derby at Loftus Road.

If found guilty over the coming days, Terry is likely to be banned, although reports suggest it may only be for four matches, possibly due to the complexity of a saga that had dragged on for almost a year.

The implications for Terry beyond any formal punishment could be more severe and there is likely to be pressure on both the FA and Chelsea to take further action against the 31-year-old, most notably by calling time on his England career.

The written judgment of the panel in the case of a guilty verdict may have a big say in determining the extent of the damage. Terry’s legal team will reportedly attempt to ensure they do not even get as far as considering a verdict.

The delegation, led by George Carter-Stephenson QC — who successfully defended Terry in court — are said to be ready to argue that his acquittal in a criminal trial means the FA case cannot proceed.

That would involved citing FA rule 6.8, which governs disciplinary hearings and states that the results of relevant civil or criminal proceedings are “presumed to be correct and the facts presumed to be true” by FA commissions.

The FA will doubtless insist their charge against Terry is distinct from the racially-aggravated public order offence from which he was cleared in July. Terry admitted in court saying “f****** black c***” but claimed it was used as part of a denial after he believed Ferdinand had accused him of using those words.

The panel who found Liverpool striker Luiz Suarez guilty of racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra last season declared simply using racist language was enough to constitute a breach of FA rules.

The commission reported: “It is not necessary that the alleged offender intends his words or behaviour to be abusive or insulting.” The prosecution in Terry’s trial were unable to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defender’s words were an insult and not part of a genuine question.

Terry’s legal team are likely to make the same point if the case goes that far in front of an FA panel who are able to reach verdicts on the balance of probability, a lower test than required in criminal cases.

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