Terry guilty of racially abusing Ferdinand
JOHN TERRY is eager to clear his name after he was found guilty of racially abusing the Queen Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand but the Chelsea captain will await the Football Association’s written judgment before deciding whether to appeal against the four-match ban and £220,000 (€276,590) fine he was given yesterday.
An independent regulatory commission delivered its verdict after a four-day hearing in relation to the incident at Loftus Road last October, which led to Terry being charged with a racially aggravated public order offence after he was alleged to have called Ferdinand “a fucking black cunt”.
Terry denied the charge, arguing he was repeating the words Ferdinand accused him of saying rather than using them as an insult, and was subsequently cleared at Westminster magistrates court in July. The FA’s own investigation, however, has arrived at a different outcome, leaving Terry, who announced his retirement from international football on the eve of the hearing, with a stain against his name unless he can successfully appeal.
The reasons why Terry was found guilty of “using abusive language” towards Ferdinand which “included a reference to colour and/or race”, and why the ban is four games fewer than the ban Luis Suarez received for racially abusing Patrice Evra, will not become clear until the report is released. That could be early next week, after which Terry will have 14 days to decide whether to lodge an appeal.
In the meantime Terry is free to carry on playing for Chelsea, starting with tomorrow’s Premier League match at Arsenal, after undertaking his first full training session of the week at Cobham today. An FA statement said: “The penalty is suspended until after the outcome of any appeal, or the time for appealing expires, or should Mr Terry decide not to appeal.”
Given the stance Terry has adopted up until now, it would be a surprise if he accepted the charge. A statement issued by Terry’s management company said: “Mr Terry is disappointed that the FA regulatory commission has reached a different conclusion to the clear not guilty verdict of a court of law. He has asked for the detailed written reasons of the decision and will consider them carefully before deciding whether to lodge an appeal.”
Although the FA’s regulations state that an FA appeal board decision is final and binding, that may not preclude Terry from going straight to the court of arbitration for sport and seeking clarification as to whether Cas could have jurisdiction to rule on the case. The first step, however, would be an FA appeal.
Terry’s legal team had felt the 31-year-old’s acquittal in court in the summer would work in their favour, but the standard of proof was lower in the FA’s investigation, where the four-man panel were working on “the balance of probabilities”, rather than “beyond reasonable doubt”.
Chelsea, who have a zero tolerance policy towards racism, issued a brief statement. “Chelsea Football Club notes and respects today’s decision by the Football Association regarding John Terry. We also recognise John has the right to appeal . . . It is therefore inappropriate for us to comment further on the matter at this time.”
Within the football world there was a mixed reaction to the news that Terry had been found guilty. The Tottenham Hotspur manager, Andre Villas-Boas, who was in charge at Chelsea when the flashpoint at Loftus Road took place, said: “I understand the frustrations from both parties involved. I continue to back the player 100 per cent. I think it was an extremely unfair and difficult situation.”
Joey Barton, who was given a 12-match ban after he was found guilty of two charges of violent conduct following his dismissal at Manchester City on the final day of last season, poured scorn on the punishment handed out to Terry. The Marseille midfielder tweeted: “What an absolute farce. 12 games for violent conduct and only 4 for that. FA should be embarrassed. By the FA’s perverse reckoning, I’d have got less of a ban for racially abusing the Man City players than tickling them as I did.” Guardian Service