Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has revealed that Chelsea skipper John Terry never made an apology to either him or his brother Anton for alleged racist remarks made during a match between Chelsea and Anton’s Queens Park Rangers side in 2011.
Terry has never admitted to the crime, which Anton never heard, and was picked up by lip readers reviewing slow motion replays of Terry mouthing words that appeared to be of a racist nature.
Terry has admitted to saying the words, but only in the context of a denial of using them. A court of law found that it could not be proved beyond reasonable doubt that Terry used the racial slur, finding him not guilty, but a Football Association investigation that was judged on the balance of probabilities, rather than beyond reasonable doubt, found Terry guilty and banned him for four matches.
Terry later publicly apologised for the incident, to everyone involved, but Ferdinand does not appear to think that was good enough.
He said, “He never apologised to me or Anton and has never hinted he has had a moment of understanding over the damage his stupidity has inflicted on everyone.”
“There were bullets in the post and unending racist abuse. He could have saved everyone a lot of pain by admitting immediately that he had used the words in the heat of the moment, but was no racist.”
“I think that’s probably what happened and what the truth is. Anton and I would have accepted that – instead he never gave us the chance.”
Of course Terry himself was subject to a media witch hunt, and was likely feeling sorry for himself, if indeed he used the language in the context he claimed.
It is hard to know beyond reasonable doubt what really happened, though the Football Association’s judgement showed what is the more likely course of events, but it does highlight that there really were no winners from the incident, with both alleged victims and alleged perpetrator suffering disproportionately from the fall out.
Ferdinand also claimed that he and his brother’s career were adversely affected, with England coaches assuming Rio would never play alongside Terry without ever asking. It seems English football as a whole likely suffered from the whole affair.
As a result, it is now common to see footballers speak with their hands covering their mouths when they speak on the pitch. A notable example was Angel Di Maria and Sami Khedira in the aftermath of the European Super Cup final for Real Madrid, a match which involved neither player as both were the subject of intense transfer speculation and were left out of the team. Both were well aware that whatever they may have said would have been scrutinised by lip readers, and this now appears to be the sensible way to hold a conversation on the pitch.
That and not losing composure and shouting obscenities at your opponent. Especially if you can’t filter out words that could make your outburst racist.