Date: 29th September 2012 at 3:06am
Written by:

In a match between Queen’s Park Rangers and Chelsea last October a footballer said to another footballer: “f****** black c***” during the aftermath of an argument. Almost one year later John George Terry has been found guilty by the Football Association of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand and punished with a four game ban. Yet in between the utterance of that sentence and the punishment handed down yesterday, the entire English media, not to mention our own national coach have been involved in what can only be described as a circus.

Chelsea fans have been quick to jump to Terry’s defence which is understandable, after all he is there captain, their leader, why wouldn’t they? Did any United fan disown – or even criticise for that matter- Eric Cantona when he jumped into the stands and gave Matthew Simmons a good hiding? No. Eric’s own brand of “Kick It Out” campaigning was actually praised by most Reds, despite costing us the double and he was rightly welcomed back to Old Trafford with open arms by the masses.

This is different though, Terry hasn’t fought someone making a racist comment, he’s been the one making it. He’s the “baddie” in all of this if you’ll forgive my juvenile metaphor and while Anton Ferdinand is hardly your typical “goodie” he is the one that’s been the victim in this sorry episode. The truth has been twisted though so that even something as clear cut as one man calling another a “f****** black c***” is no longer viewed as simply as it should be. Many educated, intelligent Chelsea fans, former players and managers and even journalists not really associated with the club have chosen to believe Terry’s somewhat ridiculous reason for his racial slur. “He was found not guilty! Why shouldn’t we believe him when a judge did?” I can hear the collective cry from West London and beyond. Well Terry WAS found not guilty mainly due to the judge being unable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he didn’t say f****** black c*** as a response to a perceived accusation from Anton Ferdinand.

Yet in his summing up judge Howard Riddle stated: “Weighing all the evidence together, I think it is highly unlikely that Mr Ferdinand accused Mr Terry on the pitch of calling him [the racist phrase]. However, I accept that it is possible that Mr Terry believed at the time, and believes now, that such an accusation was made.

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.”

This statement by the judge has been used by many of Terry’s supporters as proof of his innocence yet it really isn’t “proof” of anything other than the fact it was almost impossible for the judge to reach a guilty verdict with so many doubts thrown in by Terry’s defence. The terms “possible” “highly unlikely” and “doubt” make the whole verdict somewhat meaningless in terms of real “proof.”

Terry’s defence was almost the only option available to him with the video footage and Ferdinand’s testimony and it worked in the criminal proceedings yet came up short in the FA hearing.

Logic and common sense prevailed in the FA case- albeit about ten and a half months too late- and Terry was rightly punished if not for the length many wanted. Common sense tells us Terry is guilty, yet as Voltaire stated: “common sense is not so common.” – particularly if it’s not terribly convenient.

The sad thing about the whole Terry saga is that no one wins and football is moved back into the dark days of racism and people turning a blind eye to it, simply because it’s beneficial. I’ve been the victim of racial abuse many times and found Terry’s actions despicable and his defence preposterous but I’m not pleased he’s banned. I’m not happy he was convicted by the FA, far from it. I’d much have preferred it if Terry a man I cheered in Bloemfontein as I stood with other England fans had simply kept his racist views to himself when goaded by Ferdinand.

As much as many of us may dislike Terry- now more so than ever- before the incident with Ferdinand many of us could at least respect him as a footballer. Yes his abilities may have waned somewhat but over the years there’s no denying he’d been one of the best centre back’s in Europe and an integral part of the “Russian Revolution.”

Many black and mixed-race England fans like myself had supported Terry as he led our national side out, do we really want to think we’ve been cheering on someone who uses such vile taunts in an argument with a black footballer? No, of course not. It’s madness to rejoice in Terry’s demise as there’s no real winners in all of this.

Terry’s supporters may cling to the idea that he didn’t mean any offence when he uttered those words, but not matter how inconvenient it is for them and anyone that’s ever cheered him on, the Chelsea skipper meant every word of it.

Follow me on twitter for my more Red views @RFFH


10 responses to “The Inconvenient Truth About John Terry”

  1. Sir Cecil says:

    I pay to watch football. I don’t care tuppence what they say to each other. Muhammad Ali called an opponent racist names and it was deemed good for business. These are grown men and they have a Union to complain to if they feel aggrieved. They’re not schoolchildren needing to run to their parents crying that someone called them names. Let them sort it out in the dressing room or car park.

    • Steve Greenwood says:

      Agreed although that’s what Terry tried to do. I also note how Suarez & Evra were encouraged to shake hands yet it was okay for Ferdinand to snub Terry’s offer to shake hands. To me it seems the problem lies with the overly sensitive reverse racist, anti Terry media.

  2. Steve Greenwood says:

    You forget to mention the one crucial aspect: that all parties agreed that after the game Terry asked Anton if he thought he called him a fbc. As anton agreed this meeting took place & what was said It makes the whole thing perfectly plausable. Besides the official wording of the trial has yet to be published and it is highly likely they’ll say that he has been charged with foul language but that what he said didn’t have a racial context. That way JT can make a statement saying he accepts the punishement (for the good of football etc) and is pleased the fa have proved he didnt say anything racist. It will also keep the likes of Garth Crooks happy. The reality is though that the FA disciplinary process is a scandal. It’s fine for a bad tackle which is likely forgotten by the time the ban has been served but not for something like this when reputations are on the line. Also in any other walk of life if u were demoted for having an affair with a colleagues ex-girlfriend you’d take you employer to court and win. Especially as both JT and the woman involved denied it at the time and several newspapers have issued written apologies to them. Written by an Arsenal fan.

    • Peter says:

      ‘that all parties agreed that after the game Terry asked Anton if he thought he called him a fbc.’
      You’ve missed one crucial aspect Steve, they did not all agree that. Anton did not know what he was talking about in the post game meeting and didn’t see the footage until later. The possibility that Terry was ‘asking a question’ wasn’t ventured until a week later.
      P.S Again no Steve, the video evidence was LIVE and the above meeting took place AFTER the game, come on now don’t be silly.

      • Steve Greenwood says:

        The meeting was confirmed as happening in the official judges report. Cole witnessed that Terry asked Ferdinand about the insult which Ferdinand denied. Cole also said he thought he heard Anton say ‘black’ and that Terry told him straight away, in the game, what had happened. The tv did not pick up the words LIVE at a – it was after the game that ONE person complained at what they thought they could lip read. In the trial even a professional lip reader could not 100% confirm what was said, however. Indeed the only person to claim to hear Terry say the words was Terry himself as Anton said he never heard it at the time. It’s not silly. It’s the facts but don’t let that get in the way of jumping on a bandwagon.

  3. Steve Greenwood says:

    Ps: the above meeting between JT, Cole and Ferdinand took place before any video evidence came to light. Thus making Terry’s explanation entirely reasonable.

  4. Riproarin' says:

    If you look back at early comments by Terry,he was told of the video footage already being online as he left the pitch….hence the need to quickly try & disguise the true context of his comments.

  5. Steve says:

    As I understand it he hasnt been found guilty of making a racist remark as such, although of course this is how the media have interpreted it. He was found guilty of using offensive and insulting behaviour which was aggravated by reference to race or colour (or something like that). Devil is in the detail because if he was only repeating what the thick fooker said to him then it is not abusive – it is a question or a statement. He was found not guilty in a court of law of using racist language. The FA have used weasel words and a sly approach to nail him – because it was their intention always to do so – becasue some naughty words were spoken and in the era of hysterical over-reaction to references to race or colour this is a no-no for the achingly PC Football Association.

    All the usual suspects have jumped on the bandwagon – Rio Ferdinand for obvious reasons, Black footballers such as Jason Roberts looking to find a way in to the cosy world of commentating and summary and finding a passing bandwagon such as this ideal for the opportunity, people such as Collymore desperate to re-ingratiate themselves despite reprehensible, violent and perverted behaviour that far exceeds anything John Terry has ever done and has had a far greater lasting impact, media types desperate to keep the story stewing along nicley to sell papers/ encourage visits to web sites etc, Politically Correct arseholes who think shit like this is more important than REAL issues such as 400+ troops dead in Middle East, recession, EU etc etc etc. and the usual flotsam and jetsam who are still annoyed that Chelsea upset the cosy applecart or resent our new found status.

    I’m not a John Terry defender, some of the things he has done are out of order and I dont think he would be a person I would like but I do feel he has just become a whipping boy for any number of vested interests.

    Let’s not forget this is the same FA who had no qualms in appointing Stuart Pearce, a man who relatively recently apologised for referring to Paul Ince as an ‘arrogant b c’ some years ago, not just as U21 manager but also temporarily England manager.

  6. Another Steve says:

    “Logic and common sense prevailed in the FA case”

    So lets get this straight; Logic and common sense tell us that a 30 year old, who was captain of England, and who had been captain of one of the most ethnically diverse teams on the planet for seven years, whose director of football was black, and who was captain of a Chelsea side that fielded seven black players against QPR on that very day, suddenly decided, for the first time in his career, to racially abuse a fellow professional, shouting past the referee, knowing the cameras were on him and in full knowledge that to do so would destroy his reputation and ruin his career? Really?

    An alternative explanation is that Anton Ferdinand, who admitted in court that he had been trying to provoke John Terry, made a false allegation … to provoke John Terry, and that John Terry sarcastically and angrily denied the allegation. I can’t help feeling that this explanation makes more sense than the idea that Terry suddenly decided to commit professional suicide for no apparent reason. At the very least he was reacting to what he believed to be a false allegation of racism.

    Even if he were a racist (which he is not), he would have had to be out of his mind to racially abuse Anton Ferdinand. In the video, he is angry, but it is a controlled, sarcastic, hurt anger. He is certainly not showing any signs of the kind of the mental breakdown that would be needed to explain the extreme and totally self-destructive behaviour he is accused of.

    It is also worth mentioning that Terry released his statement, against legal advice (because not all the video footage was in) a few hours after the game. Ferdinand, on the other hand, remained silent for days until all the video evidence was in, and was extremely reluctant to bring charges. Ferdinand was put in a horrible position by those supposedly campaigning on his behalf and it is unsurprising that his career has nosedived. He is certainly a victim in this but he is not a victim of John Terry.

    If you check out the video on the Guardian website, you will see that the FA Regulatory Commission’s transcription of the video evidence contains a significant and obvious error. They claim Terry is saying “F… off!” immediately before his face is briefly obscured by Ashley Cole. You don’t have to be a professional lip reader to see that he is not saying “f… off” at that point. This false transcription of the video evidence omits words attested to by both professional lip readers (“yeah and I …” ) that support Terry’s case.

    They also totally misrepresent his defence. It was based on the claim that he was “sarcastically repeating” the words, yet there is not a single reference to sarcasm in the Commission’s 63 page written ruling. To anyone familiar with ‘cockney’ speech patterns and who understands basic body language and facial expressions it is obvious that Terry is being sarcastic.

    Logic and common sense are entirely absent in the FA case and the Commission’s verdict is a travesty. Perhaps this is not surprising as the FA had won 199 out of the previous 200 cases brought before the “Independent” Regulatory Commission, whose members are all paid by the FA. In this case the supposedly impartial panel included a senior FA executive (Maurice Armstrong) and Stuart Ripley who was working for Manchester United’s law firm, Brabners.

    I don’t know if you will ever read this Jay, (you wrote your article over two years ago!) but if you do, think about it and check out the facts for yourself. If John Terry really had racially abused Anton Ferdinand, I would not have wanted him representing England or Chelsea again (at least, not without a real, heartfelt apology and a much longer ban), but he absolutely did not.

    I agree the situation is sad, but Terry’s defence is not preposterous. He is telling the truth and it is the refusal to believe him that is preposterous. If you read the FA Regulatory Commission’s 63 page written ruling and the Magistrate’s judgment, and a wide variety of newspaper reports of the court case very carefully and study the remaining video evidence that has not been removed by the FA and acquire some expertise in body language and the linguistics of the vernacular, it will become obvious.