In between a rock and a hard place, the FA must ban John Terry

July 13, 2012 in Premier League

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Earlier this afternoon, John Terry was cleared of racially assaulting Anton Ferdinand during a match between Chelsea and Queens Park Rangers last season. Terry was accused of using the words “f**king black c**t” towards the QPR defender, and when footage of the incident appeared on the internet just moments after the game, John Terry seemed to be damned. The former England captain would admit to using the words, but explained he was only repeating the words he thought he was accused of using. The magistrate in London found that whilst he did not necessarily believe Anton Ferdinand lied when he said he did not make any such accusation towards Terry, it was quite possible that Terry believed that Ferdinand did, and so used the aforementioned words…to deny that he had actually said them.

It’s some story, and many, including myself, remain sceptical about whether Terry is telling the truth or not. The problem is that only Terry knows the answer to that question and when the law comes to pass, suspicion simply isn’t good enough. Hard hitting and close to conclusive evidence is needed to convict a man of any crime and when this case is looked at objectively it has to be concluded that no such evidence exists. As a result in cases such as this, the decision is not dependent on the evidence at hand but more often, at the capabilities of the respective legal teams. Terry’s legal team cast enough shadow over Ferdinand and the CPS’ claim and in such circumstances it is only natural and I believe correct that Terry is found not guilty. It may not be the correct decision, but then there is no guarantee it is incorrect either. Terry walks away relieved and he will claim, vindicated.

Yet this case is far from settled. In fact if anything, it just got a whole lot messier.  Following close on the heels of the FA’s decision to ban Liverpool forward Luis Suarez for 8 games when he was found to have abused Patrice Evra “on the balance of probability”, many fans were enraged when Terry was allowed to play on for weeks and months after a seemingly stronger claim was made against him. The FA were only following protocol as once the case wound up in the hands of the law, their role was to observe silently and await their turn to pass judgement, once the courts had had their say. Today the courts have found Terry innocent, on the basis that there IS “reasonable doubt” upon the accusation against him. The question now is whether Terry can be found guilty under the lens of “balanced probability”. For all intents and purposes, the answer would surely by yes.

So can we expect the FA to ban Terry for, at least, 8 games. In my opinion that is what the FA must do in the name of consistency. Whilst it will seem perverse to go against the decision of the courts who surveyed all the relevant evidence over a week long trial, the FA must stay resolute and take action against Terry. To do otherwise would be a grave miscalculation and reduce the standing of the FA with respect to racism. Not because their decision will have been the right one, but because the FA set out their stall with the Suarez case and must maintain the standards and boundaries they have already laid out. Divulging away from those now will be seen as a sign of weakness and worse, as a sign of favouritism towards England’s John Terry. In hindsight the FA may regret taking the action they did against Suarez and will have known full well that the evidence which condemned him under their ruling will not have stood firm in her majesty’s courtroom. However, the FA have nothing to be ashamed of or remorseful about. Their duty is to protect the game of football where racism has been a topical and sadly prominent issue for many years. This is a moment where the FA can be seen to act firmly and make a claim that under their watch, the use of racist language for whatever purpose is not tolerated. It may well be received as harsh and maybe even a verdict beyond their call of duty, yet it is a necessary bullet which must be bitten, to save face at the least; and beyond that, to make a statement. Let’s Kick Racism out of Football.

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