Whilst it is probably unlikely that the FA will act against John Terry after the verdict today, it is certainly possible. To be convicted of a criminal offence, you have to appear guilty “beyond reasonable doubt”. As it cannot be proven that Terry didn’t think he heard Anton accuse him of calling him a “black cunt” and as it cannot be proven that Terry wasn’t merely repeating this accusation back to him, he cannot be found guilty. “Nobody has been able to show that he is lying.” That is the crucial part of the summary of this case. Whatever your personal opinion may be, with the evidence provided, the judgement today is the right one.
However, as Luis Suarez found earlier this year, the FA rule on “the balance of probability”, which is a lower standard than the criminal standard.
The chief magistrate summarised the findings of the trial before giving his “not guilty” verdict. In Scotland, they would refer to this as “not proven”, which some may argue would be appropriate to this case.
- Anton Ferdinand was deemed a “believable witness”.
- It is “inherently unlikely that” Ferdinand accused Terry of calling him a “black cunt”.
- “Mr Terry’s explanation is unlikely. It is sandwiched between other undoubted insults.”
- “Despite his general self-discipline, it could have been a sudden loss of control. Almost everyone can snap sometimes.”
- “In the FA interview, Mr Terry was asked ‘can you remember what you said to him?’ and replied ‘I think it was something along the lines of ‘you black cunt, you fucking knobhead.’ The Crown say this represents a true statement. It was a slip by Mr Terry. It is evidence of his guilt. Certainly it is a very significant statement. It may well represent the truth.”
- “The prosecution has presented a strong case. There is no doubt that John Terry uttered the words ‘fucking black cunt’ at Anton Ferdinand. When he did so he was angry. Mr Ferdinand says he did not precipitate this comment by himself accusing Mr Terry of calling him a black cunt.”
On the “balance of probability”, is Terry guilty of racially abusing Ferdinand? That will be for the FA to decide…
“The FA notes the decision in the John Terry case and will now seek to conclude its own enquiries.”