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John Terry – Guilty and Not Guilty…What’s the difference?

With the news that Chelsea captain John Terry has been found guilty by the FA on charges that he racially abused QPR’s Anton Ferdinand, fans are left confused as to why he was cleared by the courts. Here is a look into the details.

The Chelsea captain was found guilty by an independent FA tribunal yesterday of using “abusive and/or insulting words and/or behaviour, which included a reference to ethnic origin and/or colour and/or race”.

The disciplinary board took four days to find the former England captain guilty and, subsequently handed him a four-match ban and a £220,000 fine for his indiscipline.

The incident, which took place at Loftus Road last October has been the subject of heated speculation, including numerous Twitter ‘feuds’ between Terry and Anton Ferdinand supporters. Terry appeared to call Ferdinand a “f***ing black c***” in the match last year which residually saw Ferdinand refuse to shake Terry’s hand before the teams’ fixture this year.

Terry’s representatives are thought to be mounting an appeal against the FA charges, after the player was cleared in a July court case concerned with the same incident. In an official statement from Terry’s management, the player marked his disappointment at the decision:

"Mr Terry is disappointed that the FA Regulatory Commission has reached a different conclusion to the clear not guilty verdict of a court of law. He has asked for the detailed written reasons of the decision and will consider them carefully before deciding whether to lodge an appeal."

The independent regulatory commission was put on hold at the request of the Crown Prosecution Services and on July 13th 2012 a Westminster Magistrates Court cleared Mr Terry of a “racially aggravated public order offense” but the FA brought disciplinary charges under its own regulations – the difference being, it would appear, that whilst Terry hadn’t broken the law he had in fact admitted to using offensive language which is itself a breach of the FA regulations outlined above.

Teammate Ashley Cole, along with former coach Ray Wilkins, and former England manager Fabio Capello all testified in support of Terry, each giving glowing character references in front of the four-man panel hearing.

Terry’s barrister George Carter-Stephenson QC attempted to argue that his client should be cleared in accordance with the criminal charges that were thrown out in July.

However, whilst admitting to using “offensive language” may have saved him in court it was ultimately what caught him out in the FA hearing – the regulations clearly state that using any “abusive/and or insulting words/behaviour” will result in a penalty. Bit of an own goal there, JT.

What do you think of the verdicts, and does John Terry have any grounds to appeal?

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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