Day two of the John Terry trial, where allegations of racism were brought against him, is well underway.
In October 2011, during an English Premier League match between Queens Park Rangers and Chelsea, Terry clashed with QPR centre-back Anton Ferdinand, brother of Rio Ferdinand. After the game there were also rumors of a fracas in the tunnel.
Following that game the story of racial abuse circulated. Terry was previously reported to have had infractions with other professional players, including former teammate Wayne Bridge, when Terry was said to have had relations with Bridge’s former partner in 2010.
At the time of this previous report Fabio Capello, the England coach at the time, dropped Terry as the country’s captain. He was reinstated less than a year later. After this alleged incident, and following police involvement, Capello refused drop Terry a second time. The Italian eventually left his post and Terry was duly relieved of his position by the FA.
Terry was able to attain a delay of trial until after EURO 2012. However, yesterday saw the case get underway at the Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London.
As this is an ongoing trial it would be unwise to prejudice either the defendant or his accusers, so the facts have to be laid out.
On day one of the case the court heard relayed transcripts from both players and replays of the FA’s own interviews. In the expletive filled annals were kernels of conversation between the two, where issues of Terry’s past relationship were brought up. Ferdinand, it was explained, used a “shagging gesture.”
Lip-reading ‘experts’ were brought in to review the match footage. Ferdinand was said to have spoken first, the word “c***” being a prominent terminology. The court heard of Ferdinand saying “shagging your mate’s missus” and using the aforementioned gesture.
The court also heard of how Terry, who was seen in the footage to partially obscure his face, used some indecipherable words before uttering the term “F****** black c***.”
Following this Ferdinand was cross examined.
Opposing council questioned the delay in Ferdinand bringing this matter to the police, with the player suggesting that he had not thought it bad enough until his girlfriend showed him match footage on YouTube. He also told of how he wished the FA had stepped in and dealt with the situation so he had no reason to approach the police.
Described as nervous, Ferdinand, who Terry’s counsel had hoped would be discredited, stepped down. It was a day, in fact, when all of the evidence was heavily scrutinized as being far from credible, by Terry’s team.
Today went similarly, with Terry insisting that the language used was “responsive and not accusatory.” The defense attempted to suggest that whilst lip-reading is an art, not a science, the fact remained that Terry was merely repeating back to Ferdinand something the QPR player had said first.
Terry then proceeded to exclaim that his good works through African charities, set up by former black Chelsea teammates Didier Drogba and Marcel Desailly, proved that he was not a racist.
“I have been called a lot of things in my career and off the pitch but being racist is not one I am prepared to take at all,” Terry told the court. “I’m not having anyone, let alone Anton, think that about me or anyone else,” he continued.
After Terry finished with, “That’s not my character … I was taken aback by that. I have never been accused of that,” the court heard an off-duty police officer’s concerns, originally filed with his employers that day.
The morning session ended with Terry’s camp presenting the point that there was no prima facie case to answer, as Ferdinand was an unreliable witness and that his YouTube evidence was equally unreliable, due to the fact it was taken from a source other than the actual match footage.
Before the lunch break the defense asked for the case to be dismissed. However, following lunch the prosecution put forth the point that Terry still had to be questioned on the use of “black c***” and whether there was intent to racially abuse.
After lunch, however, the magistrate ruled that there is indeed a case to answer, and the trial continues.
The trial is expected to last until Friday, and if Terry is found guilty he could be fined the maximum penalty of £2,500. While this is a meager sum for John Terry, the ignominy of being the first high profile footballer in the UK to be charged with a racially aggravated offence could do serious damage to the man’s reputation and future career prospects.