John Terry has been found not guilty of racially abusing QPR defender Anton Ferdinand in a London court today.
The Chelsea defender was accused of aiming a torrent of racial abuse towards Ferdinand during Chelsea’s tempestuous 1-0 defeat against their London rivals in October.
The 31-year-old was found not guilty after being accused of calling Ferdinand a ‘f*****g black c***’ during the game. Terry faces a maximum £2,500 fine for his crime.
Passing down his judgment at Westminster Magistrates Court, Chief Magistrate Howard Riddle said: "I think it is highly unlikely that Mr Ferdinand accused Mr Terry on the pitch of calling him a black c**t. 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."
Video footage posted on You Tube soon after the game appeared to show Terry aiming a volley of abuse at Ferdinand, which he claimed was footage of him repeating back words the QPR defender had used in making an unfounded accusation of racist abuse.
Ferdinand denied this, and said he was only made aware of Terry’s words after watching the footage after the game.
Terry was said to have ‘snapped’ after being taunted by Ferdinand over his affair with his former team-mate Wayne Bridge’s fiancé, Veronica Perroncel, prompting him to racially abuse Ferdinand, although the Chelsea man’s defence team argued that Ferdinand had resorted to accusing him of racist abuse in order to get under his skin after his affair insults had failed.
Prosecutor Duncan Penny questioned Terry’s defence during the five-day trial, saying Terry’s addition of a profanity into his words that was not used by Ferdinand proved that he was not repeating back what had been said to him but using his own words. Penny accused Terry yesterday during his closing speech of ‘straightforward racial abuse’.
However Terry’s defence team argued throughout the trail that the evidence used, which comprised of footage used for broadcast and some not made public along with the testimony of an expert lip reader, was based on ‘speculation’ and could not be used to find Terry guilty.
Ferdinand’s integrity as a witness was called into question during the trial, with leader of the defence George Carter-Stephenson describing him as ‘unreliable and inconsistent’.
The week-long trial has caused major embarrassment for Terry, Ferdinand and the Premier League as the foul-mouthed exchanges between the pair were played out in court along with unseemly details being revealed.
A host of high-profile names appeared during the five days, with Terry’s defence team calling upon the testimony of team-mate Ashley Cole, who appeared in the dock to defend Terry and in particular disclose his exchanges after the game with Ferdinand. Chelsea’s chairman Bruce Buck also gave evidence and statements from Ray Wilkins and Jose Mourinho were also read out.
During his testimony Cole admitted he was not sure who had said what to whom during the match in question, but maintained Terry was not a racist and said he believed the matter did not deserve to be heard in a court room.
Cole had been nearby when the incident occurred, while later Terry approached him saying he had been accused of racially abusing Ferdinand.
Yesterday chairman of the Professional Footballers Association urged Terry’s employers to sack him if he was found guilty. The FA will now begin their own investiagtion into the incident and could still find Terry guilty, and hand him a severe match suspension.
The issue cost Terry the England captaincy for Euro 2012 while also forcing Fabio Capello to step down as Three Lions boss earlier this year. The case was initially scheduled to take place before the tournament however the FA moved to strip Terry of the role after it was postponed until earlier this week.
Terry went on to represent England at the tournament in Poland and Ukraine, while Anton’s brother Rio, missed out on a place in the squad, with manager Roy Hodgson insisting only ‘football reasons’ were behind his decision, and not the court case. Terry left the court without issuing a statement.
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