John Terry trial: Anton Ferdinand says racism hurtful

  • Published
Media caption,

John Terry arrives at Westminster Magistrates' Court.

Anton Ferdinand has told a court he would have been "very hurt" if he had heard John Terry racially abuse him.

Chelsea and England footballer Mr Terry, 31, is charged with a racially-aggravated public order offence - an allegation he denies.

It relates to a comment allegedly made by the Chelsea captain to the QPR defender when the teams played at Loftus Road last October.

The trial, set to last five days, is at Westminster Magistrates' Court.

If found guilty, the maximum sentence Mr Terry could receive is a £2,500 fine.

It is alleged that the Chelsea defender insulted Mr Ferdinand by calling him black with the use of extreme sexual swear words.

Lip reader and sign language interpreter Susan Whitewood concurred the bad language had been employed.

Mr Ferdinand told the court that initially he did not think any racist terms had been used.

But after the match, his girlfriend at the time played him a YouTube clip and he changed his mind.

The QPR defender told the court that if he had realised at the time he would have told officials.

"I would have been obviously very hurt and I probably wouldn't have reacted at the time because, being a professional, you can't do that.

"I probably would have let the officials know what happened and dealt with it after the game," he said.

"When someone brings your colour into it, it takes it to another level and it's very hurtful."

Under cross-examination, Mr Ferdinand said he was no stranger to being sworn at and agreed he had also sworn at players.

Image caption,
The alleged racial obscenity was spoken during a match at Loftus Road

At the QPR home match on 23 October, Chelsea were down to nine men when Mr Ferdinand and Mr Terry began trading insults over a penalty claim, the court heard.

Asked why he was so angry with Mr Terry appealing for a penalty, Mr Ferdinand, describing himself as a "calm, collected player", said: "Because I am a winner."

Proceedings in court have been punctuated by swear words but Mr Ferdinand insisted he did not use those words off the pitch.

George Carter-Stephenson QC asked the witness if by shouting abuse at the Chelsea player he was "trying to get a rise out of Mr Terry and get him to react?"

"Probably, yes," responded Mr Ferdinand. "There wasn't long left in the game."

The QC suggested that Mr Ferdinand had made up the allegation of racism as swearing at him and talking about his alleged affair was not having "the desired effect" of winding Mr Terry up.

Mr Ferdinand denied this.

Mr Carter-Stephenson also suggested the player only decided to go to police when persuaded by his agent Justin Rigby.

But Mr Ferdinand replied: "No, I made up my own mind, I wanted to do it."

In re-examination, he said he was initially reluctant to talk to the police because it was a sporting issue.

"This is a footballing issue that happened on the football pitch where we work," Mr Ferdinand told the court.

The Chelsea captain was allowed out of the dock into the well of the court to view footage of the alleged insult.

The court heard that Mr Terry maintains he was only sarcastically repeating words that Mr Ferdinand wrongly thought he had used, during the match which was broadcast to millions of people.

Opening the prosecution, Duncan Penny said: "The Crown's case is that the words were abusive and insulting in a straightforward sense."

He added that a racially abusive obscenity had been uttered "demonstrating hostility based on Mr Ferdinand's membership of a racial group".

"They were uttered by the defendant in response to goading by Mr Ferdinand on the issue of his extra-marital affair, rather than by way of exaggerated and instant querying of a perceived false allegation," he said.

Two TV clips and footage not previously broadcast of the incident, normally used for training purposes, were shown to the court.

The trial heard that Mr Ferdinand said something about the Chelsea player's alleged affair and made fist gestures, before Mr Terry responded.

Chelsea team-mates John Mikel Obi and Ashley Cole were nearby when insults were traded, but they will not be called as witnesses as part of the prosecution case.

'It's handbags'

In a statement to the Football Association five days afterwards, Mr Terry said that he and Mr Ferdinand had been exchanging "verbals" and he had made a gesture to imply Mr Ferdinand had bad breath.

He said: "We're still having a, sort of, ding-dong, if you like," adding that was when the QPR player had used a racially abusive obscenity.

Mr Terry said he did not think Mr Ferdinand was referring to him, but nevertheless he still took "strong offence".

Image caption,
John Terry said he and the QPR player had been exchanging "verbals"

The England defender said he was not offended by the taunts about the alleged affair with Wayne Bridge's ex-girlfriend, because "it's not the first time I've heard it, so it's with a pinch of salt a little bit now".

But he said he was angered by any accusation that he might have used a racist insult.

After the match, Mr Terry asked a steward to get Mr Ferdinand from the dressing room.

The Chelsea player said in his statement that he had asked Mr Ferdinand if he was accusing him of using racially abusive language towards him.

Later, in an interview, he added: "I'm being honest and open with you guys, that I didn't mean it in the context that, if you watch the video and me, watching the video, you can quite easily say that doesn't look good.

"But at the same time, in the context of what I thought Anton accused me of, you know, no-one can argue what my feelings were at that time."

Immediately after the match, Mr Ferdinand did not think that Mr Terry had used racist words, the court heard.

"It's handbags innit - it's what happens on the pitch", he said, and the two shook hands.

In a statement made to police last November, Mr Terry said he was offended by the accusation that he had used racist language.

"Whilst footballers are used to industrial language, using racist terms is completely unacceptable whatever [the] situation," the statement read.

"I was completely taken aback by this remark as I have never been accused of something like that and I did not take his remark lightly at all, and took strong offence to his suggestion."

Police questioned the ex England captain under caution in November 2011 after a complaint from a member of the public following the Premier League match.

As a summary offence under the Crime and Disorder Act, the trial will be fully dealt with in a magistrates' court, with no jury, and is being heard by Chief Magistrate Howard Riddle.

Anton Ferdinand has played for West Ham, Sunderland and QPR and is the brother of Rio Ferdinand, John Terry's England team-mate and defensive partner for the national side.

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