LONDON - The Associated Press
Chelsea captain John Terry arrives at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London. Terrywas found not guilty of racially abusing QPR’s Anton Ferdinand during a game. Reuters Photo
Chelsea’s John Terry was cleared on July 13 of racially abusing an opponent during a Premier League match after one of the most high-profile trials involving a footballer.
The case led to Terry being stripped of the England captaincy by the Football Association ahead of the European Championship and the departure of coach Fabio Capello who disagreed with the decision.
But after hearing four days of evidence at a London court, chief magistrate Howard Riddle found he was not convinced that the Chelsea captain had committed a racially aggravated public order offense in a confrontation with Queens Park Rangers player Anton Ferdinand during the match in October.
Terry’s legal team said: “He did not racially abuse Mr. Ferdinand and the court has accepted this.”
Terry maintained he only used an offensive term sarcastically to counter the obscenity he claims Ferdinand was accusing him of using. It followed Ferdinand goading Terry about an alleged extramarital affair with then-England teammate Wayne Bridge’s former girlfriend.
And Riddle was persuaded by the defense claim that Terry could have misheard “Bridge” as “black,” prompting his belief that a claim of racism
was being wrongly claimed.
“It is highly unlikely that Mr. Ferdinand accused Mr. Terry on the pitch of calling him a black (expletive),” Riddle wrote in his judgment. “However I accept that it is possible that Mr. Terry believed at the time, and believes now, that such an accusation was made.
“The prosecution evidence as to what was said by Mr. Ferdinand at this point is not strong. Mr. (Ashley) Cole (the Chelsea defender) gives corroborating (although far from compelling corroborating) evidence on this point. 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.”
There were cheers in Court One at Westminster Magistrates’ Court from members of Terry’s family after the verdict.
“We are pleased that John can now put his mind to football and go back to training and do what he’s done for many years,” Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck said outside Westminster Magistrates’ Court.
Riddle said there was no evidence Terry has lied and called him a “credible witness.”