John Terry – Guilty or not?

John Terry - Was he guilty?For casual onlookers, it seems strange to see one man cleared of an offence in a British court of law only to be found guilty of the same allegations by a sport`s governing body. However, that is exactly what has happened in the case of Chelsea captain John Terry who was charged by the FA and subsequently declared to be guilty of racially abusing Queens Park Rangers` defender Anton Ferdinand.

It`s easier to accept the fact that the Football Association can come to its own conclusions, irrespective of court findings and not to question the reasons why this is possible. So that leaves the question as to why they have come to this decision.

The game in question took place on November 2nd 2011 and it was a highly volatile match where two Chelsea players were sent off in a naturally tense West London Derby. After the match, footage began to circulate on the internet suggesting that Chelsea captain Terry had racially abused Ferdinand. It didn`t seem to require a professional lip reader to understand what was being said but Terry`s defence claimed that he was asking a direct question   as in `did you think I called you a   ..?`

Terry was then interviewed and cautioned by police before being charged with using racist and abusive language by the Crown Prosecution Service. At the subsequent trial in July 2012, Justice Riddle summed up by saying there was no doubt that Chelsea`s captain had used the words in anger but the case was simply dismissed for lack of evidence.

That wasn`t sufficient for the FA who charged Terry with “abusive and / or insulting words and / or behaviour” as soon as the trial had come to an end. Their hearing found him guilty and the player was hit with a  220,000 fine and banned for four matches.

The FA subsequently issued its own 63 page report detailing the reasons why they had made their decision. Within that report, they stated that Terry`s original evidence was “improbable, implausible and contrived” and that they were satisfied that the original comments directed to Anton Ferdinand were intended as an insult and not as a question.

The report also revealed criticisms of other defence witnesses and in particular that of Terry`s Chelsea team mate Ashley Cole. The FA said that it believed Cole`s evidence had `evolved` over a period of time to suit the defence that Terry was offering. Cole then reacted angrily on Twitter to the findings and now has his own FA charge to answer.

Chelsea`s secretary Dave Barnard has also come in for criticism over the case. The FA decided that the evidence that Mr Barnard gave in the original court case was `materially defective` and some even questioned his position on the FA Council as a result.

The focus however is firmly on John Terry who, in the space of a few months, has been found guilty by his governing body and has lost an international career, having retired from England duty claiming that his position as national captain and player was `untenable`.

As to the question of whether John Terry is guilty or not, most will abide by the FA`s findings and trust their judgement on the matter. For now, his focus is on Chelsea and many will be making their own minds up while looking for to decide whether he is still a major force at club level and can still drive the Stamford Bridge side towards major honours.

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