– It’s not just “highly unlikely” that Ferdinand accused Terry of calling him a “black cunt”, but that he did not, because in the brief time that it took Ferdinand to advance up the pitch towards Terry, why would the focus of Ferdinand’s abuse and insults of Terry have changed so quickly from an allegation of an affair, to one involving skin colour, or race.
– Terry and Cole did not hear, and could not have believed, understood or misunderstood Ferdinand to have used the word “black”, or any word(s) that might have suggested that he was accusing Terry of racially abusing him.
– There is no credible basis for Terry’s defence that his use of the words “fucking black cunt” were directed at Ferdinand by way of forceful rejection and/or inquiry. Instead, we are quite satisfied, and find on the balance of probabilities, that the offending words were said by way of insult.
Reasons for commission conclusion
Unnatural verbal response to supposed accusation
– As the Chief Magistrate observed, the words “fucking black cunt” were sandwiched between two admitted insults. Those words were preceded by “fuck off, fuck off”, and followed by “fucking knobhead”. It seems inherently unlikely that if he had been accused by Ferdinand of calling him something that ended with the words “black cunt”, that Terry would have added the word “fucking” when he threw the words back, if he was genuinely doing so by way of forceful denial. It is also inherently improbable, that a denial of such a serious allegation would then be followed by an insulting sexual reference directed at Ferdinand (i.e. “fucking knobhead”).
– His repetition of words that Terry claims were said to him first by Ferdinand is implausible if they were really intended to be a robust denial. A much more likely reaction would have been “I didn’t call you a black cunt”, or at least to have prefaced the words “fucking black cunt” with “are you saying that I called you?”, or something similar. Instead, the words “black cunt” are simply repeated on Terry’s case, with the word “fucking” added at the beginning, and a question-mark at the end to be inferred. A much more plausible and likely explanation is that Terry was angry at Ferdinand’s taunting and provocation of him, at the way the match had gone, and at the way in which it seemed likely to end. The much more likely explanation for what he said is that all of this provoked him into saying “fucking black cunt” as an insult, which is consistent with the fact that insults preceded and followed those words.
Unnatural physical response to supposed accusation
– In the critical phase, during which he uses the words “fucking black cunt”, Terry can be seen to be smiling initially, before his facial expression changes to disdainful and contemptuous. At no point is his demeanour and facial expression that of someone who is imploring, injured, or even quizzical in the face of an unfounded allegation by Ferdinand that Terry had just been racially abusive towards Ferdinand. This was an allegation, apparently, that had never previously been levelled at Terry. Anger is a conceivable reaction to such an accusation, but at no time does Terry convey any sense of “No, I didn’t” with his facial expression, or body language.
– Terry’s anger manifested itself again in what remained of the match. A few minutes later he had an altercation with the QPR goalkeeper, Paddy Kenney during which Terry said: “You fucking cunt, you fucking cheeky cunt”. Those words were accompanied by gestures from Terry, namely puffing out his cheeks out and putting his arms out. This was a reference to another physical characteristic, namely to suggest that Kenney was overweight.
Unnatural post-match response to supposed accusation
– Terry made no attempt to confront Ferdinand when the game ended. Instead, he went to acknowledge the support of the Chelsea fans. If he genuinely believed that he had been the victim of an unjustified accusation of the serious type alleged, it is very surprising that Terry left it for approximately an hour after the match before he requested a meeting with Ferdinand. The Commission cannot speculate as to what may have transpired during that hour or so, apart from the likely realisation on Terry’s part that what he said may well have been caught on camera and be a source of trouble for him. When they did speak after the game, Ferdinand’s unchallenged evidence is that the first thing Terry said to him was “What happened?” This is telling. Without first speaking to Ferdinand, and asking that question, Terry could not have known what Ferdinand heard or knew, and whether he intended to pursue matters further.
New evidence which allowed FA to pursue case after verdict in court and therefore not a contradiction of paragraph 6.8 of FA rules
1. Terry’s untruthful account about his sending off against Barcelona
On 24th April 2012, Terry was sent off during the second leg of the European Champions League semi-final match between Barcelona and Chelsea. Film footage of the match clearly shows that he deliberately ‘kneed’ a Barcelona player, Alexis Sanchez, in the back of his legs when play was elsewhere. The FA rely on comments that Terry is said to have made immediately after he left the field of play, but which he subsequently had to retract. According to a Guardian newspaper report of the same date, Terry told a touchline reporter: “The player checked his run and piled into the back of me. He put his weight on the back foot, that’s why my knee went up.”
Following the match, after viewing video replays of the incident, Terry is reported to have made the following statement:
“I’ve seen the replay and it does look bad. I’m not that type of player to intentionally hurt anyone. I’ve raised my knee which I maybe shouldn’t have done in hindsight. But hopefully people who know me as a person, as a player [know] I’m not that type of player. …”
This shows that the incident involving Ferdinand is not the only time that Terry has been untruthful about what happened on a football pitch.
This incident undermines those of Terry’s character witnesses who suggest that he has preternatural reserves of self-control. His actions in a crucial Champions League semi-final show that he is capable of losing his self-control. It was also a significant lapse of judgment for a player and captain which his post-match statement recognises. Those are matters that are relevant to our overall assessment of his disposition, demeanour and conduct during the critical phase of the match against QPR.
2. Cole’s change in testimony
Ashley Cole‟s evidence has evolved and that the word “black” was introduced retrospectively into the witness statement that he provided to the FA, with a view to bolstering Terry’s claim that the words that Terry spoke to Ferdinand were not said by way of an insult, but as repetition and forceful denial of what Ferdinand had accused him of saying. The FA pointed to an exchange of e-mails that took place between the FA and Chelsea’s Club Secretary, David Barnard, in which requests were made, on behalf of Cole, to amend his witness statements.
The Commission’s view of this new evidence is that it casts considerable doubt over Cole’s claim that he heard, or could have heard, Ferdinand use the word “black” when the latter insulted Terry with words and gestures. The new evidence undermines Cole’s corroboration for Terry’s claim that when he used the words “fucking black cunt”, he did so by way of forceful rejection/inquiry.
On October 28th (five days after the match), Cole was interviewed by the FA. Both Jenni Kennedy (Head of FA Off-Field Regulation) and Adam Sanhaie (her colleague) made handwritten notes of the interview of Cole.
In Kennedy’s notes: Definitely a “B” word – could have been “Bridge”? but I don’t know for sure.
In Sanhaie’s notes: Saw gesture heard “b” word said, but not sure what saying. AF was making gesture re having sex. The gesture was aimed at JT. Think ref was to JT activities – heard “B” word but not sure what the word was. Def “B” word. At same time as made gesture.
The first draft of Cole’s witness statement was sent to Cole by e-mail on November 2nd. The following day, Chelsea’s club secretary, Dave Bernand, replied to this e-mail saying: He wishes to add the words “Black or” before the word “Bridge”.
Kennedy gave oral evidence to the Commission. She was adamant that if the word “black” had been said she would have noted it. Having regard to the context of the interview, it would be very surprising if she had not, and even more surprising if her colleague had also failed to do so.
The Chief Magistrate did not have the interview notes of the FA’s Interviewers and they do not appear in his judgment. Accordingly, that material can and should properly be regarded as cogent new evidence. Had it been before him, the Commission has no doubt that the Chief Magistrate would have examined Cole’s evidence as to what he claims he heard Ferdinand say to Terry on the pitch very carefully indeed, or scrutinised it even more closely than he may have done. Like the Commission, the issues that have arisen would have informed his view as to whether Cole’s evidence was capable of providing reliable corroboration for Terry’s case. On the evidence before us, the Commission has considerable doubts in that regard.
Cole and Terry supported Ferdinand’s claim that he made reference to Terry’s affair with Wayne Bridge’s girlfriend. Cole supports the claim that Ferdinand made a sexual gesture and a “B” word and suggested that the “B” word was Bridge. This is a logical explanation of what Ferdinand was saying.
It is not logical or believable that Ferdinand, whilst making a sexual gesture, would be making an accusation of racial abuse. It is not logical or believable that Terry would presume that in the midst of a conversation about Bridge that Ferdinand suddenly made an accusation of racial abuse.
If Terry genuinely believed that Ferdinand made this accusation, it is not logical that Terry would respond to this accusation with a stream of insults and swear words, and not question Ferdinand for saying this or, more importantly, deny the accusation.
Terry’s defence hinged on his claim that he thought Ferdinand had accused him of calling him a “black cunt”. When Kennedy and Sanhaie interviewed Cole, any reference to the word “black” certainly would have been noted. This is a case about racial abuse so any mention of race would have stood out. Given the context, to suggest that one person missed Cole saying the word “black” is fairly ridiculous, considering how important that word is in this case, but to suggest that two people did is ludicrous. You would have to presume that Cole does not believe Terry is a racist and maybe he even believes Terry’s versions of events, but it is clear that he changed his testimony under the advice of Terry or the club, as a way to strengthen Terry’s defence. If Cole thought it was possible that Ferdinand mouthed the words “black” in Terry’s direction, he would have made this clear in his interview. It doesn’t make sense that Cole would have forgotten that he saw this and it doesn’t make sense that if he did mention it, that both Kennedy and Sanhaie didn’t hear it. His petulant outburst on Twitter fools no one. It’s important to note that, even if this story change had been mentioned in court, the verdict would have been no difference. The only thing this revelation has an impact on is Cole’s reputation.
The chief magistrate deemed that Terry was not guilty because nobody could prove he was lying. That is the way the legal system works and it obviously has to work in that way. Whilst evidence can point you to certain conclusions and those conclusions could be correct 99% of the time, when there is any room for error it clearly would be wrong to convict people without that conclusive evidence.
However, Terry’s story doesn’t make sense and no one in their right mind can accept his version as truth. Several people were drafted in to court to claim that Terry has an incredible amount of self-restraint, that he never reacts to provocation, making it impossible for Terry to have lost his cool and snapped at Loftus Road, despite the fact he received a red card for doing exactly that just a couple of months earlier. His immediate reaction was to lie about what happened on the pitch, until he saw the conclusive video footage which showed he was lying. In the case with Ferdinand, the footage wasn’t conclusive, which is why he was found not guilty, but it should be clear to all that this case falls in the 99% bracket, not the 1%, because of the preposterous nature of Terry’s defence. His explanation for saying the words “black cunt” quite simply doesn’t make any sense, which is why it was easy for the commission to deem him guilty.
Terry called Ferdinand a “black cunt” because he was angry and it was the first insult that came to mind, just like he was angry with Kenny and his weight was the first insult that came to mind. This is the obvious conclusion to be drawn from all the evidence available to the commission.
Some things are more important than football and any Chelsea fan trying to convince themselves that Terry, Cole and their club haven’t behaved badly here should be ashamed of themselves. If Joey Barton replaced Terry and Cole replaced Ferdinand in this scenario, I wonder how many of them would have the same opinions. Likely, none of them. Football is tribal, no doubt, but people need to see the bigger picture on some issues. The fact that Terry and Cole’s names were loudly sung from the stands at Stamford Bridge this weekend suggests that Chelsea fans have no intention of removing their heads from the sand though, and they join the players and the club in showing themselves up.