LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 15: John Terry walks onto the pitch beforethe Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Everton at Stamford Bridge on October 15, 2011 in London, England.This is John Terry’s 350th Premier League appearance for Chelsea. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
So to give you all a place to rant and rave about this, here it is. Before you go on getting angry comparing it to Suarez, remember a few points:
1. The burden of proof was significantly higher in this case. This case required the criminal standard of beyond a reasonable doubt. The magistrate did state that he had his significant doubts as to the validity of John Terry's story, but it wasn't proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Terry did this in a racist.
2. It is highly likely that Suarez would have also been acquitted in a criminal complaint.
3. The FA still have their investigation to complete. However, they are really backed into a corner now as Terry admitted saying the phrase during the trial.
4. There is a lot of debate about the captaincy of England right now, but I can't see how it would be taken from Gerrard. He put in a Captain's performance at the Euros and Terry had one of his better runs when he wasn't the Captain. Perhaps this is how it should have been all along.
5. If you don't see the difference, here is my summary of the 115 pages of the decision in Suarez's case. Terry should still have to undergo a similar inquiry and will likely face suspension still. Especially since he admitted to using the racially loaded phrase, just as Suarez did.
After the jump, a "brief" summary of the 15 (whew, only 15 this time) pages of the Terry decision:
If you choose to post with out reading the summary, remember the rules. Be civil, no racist or hatred will be tolerated. Try to stick to the subject and make pointed remarks, not wild accusations. Thank you.
Here is the actual document so you can read the words with your own eyes courtesy of The Guardian. I have tried to remain as neutral as possible. Feel free to point out where I have slipped.
The summary of the judgement:
It starts with a brief summary of the charges and an overview of the incident. In the middle of the overview, it goes into Terry's main defense:
The defendant does not deny that he used the words, "fuck off, fuck off", "fucking black cunt" or "fucking knobhead". His case is that his words were not uttered by way of abuse or insult nor were they intended to be abusive or insulting
Terry's defense is that he was using the words in regards to a false accusation about using the term "black cunt" made by Anton Ferdinand. He claims he was simply just repeating the accusation in confronting Ferdinand about it.
The court then makes it clear that whether or not Terry is a racist is not on trial and is irrelevant to the proceedings. The court is merely trying to establish whether or not Terry used the term as an insult. If he did, then he would be guilty.
The court again hired lip readers, but unlike the Suarez case, it was plainly obvious what Terry said, especially since he didn't deny it. In addition, the court acknowledges that Terry was angry when he did say it. The expert lip readers came to the conclusion that Terry's statement to Ferdinand was this:
Yeah and I [obstruction] you/ya fucking black cunt (pause) fucking knobhead.
However, lip reading is unable to determine tone etc and therefore even one of the lip readers stated that this must be considered in using lip reading as evidence. The magistrate then even states that Terry's defense is highly questionable and unlikely as it would not be an natural response. He even claims that the prosecution has a very strong case. But there were some issues with the facts:
-The lip readers couldn't determine if Terry's statement was a questions. In addition, Terry's mouth was obstructed for a brief moment during the utterance.
-Nobody else came forward to claim they heard what was said. Even Anton Ferdinand stated he didn't hear it (or at least didn't want to deal with it so denied hearing it to avoid this circus).
-There were doubts about what was said while Ferdinand was gesturing at Terry before the words were spoken
-The fact that Terry's facial expressions changed significantly at the moment he stated the term. Terry alleges and other testified he has extreme self-control, especially given the torrents of abuse he has endured since he was unable to keep his manhood to his own misses. The magistrate seems to think that Ferdinand's insult must have been of the highest caliber to cause Terry's face to change as it did.
-More doubt was cast by Terry's cooperativeness. He was labelled a reliable cooperative witness throughout the entire process and his account changed little under cross-examination.
-When Terry gave his answer to the FA when asked what was said, he said:
I think it was something along the lines of, "You black cunt, you're a fucking knobhead." So I'm repeating, basically, what he's said to me, or what I think he is said to me.
The beginning and ending qualifications gave Terry's argument that he was responding to an accusation by Ferdinand more clout
-Terry asked Ferdinand to come to the Chelsea dressing room and in their conversation Ferdinand denied hearing and racial abuse.
So in conclusion, there was entirely too much doubt surrounding what went on to provide for a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt. This is understandable and while we all know what happen and what was said, there wasn't enough to convict beyond a reasonable doubt. The magistrate did state in his conclusion that he highly doubted Terry's story that Ferdinand had made the accusation Terry alleges. However, the magistrate did find that it was entirely possible that Terry believed in his own mind that Ferdinand had made the accusation.
As the magistrate concludes in the final sentences:
It is therefore possible that what he said was not intended as an insult, but rather as a challenge to what he believed had been said to him.
In those circumstances, there being a doubt, the only verdict the court can record is one of not guilty.
What does it mean? Well, nothing in footballing terms. The FA still must conclude their case into the matter and then deal out a punishment as they see fit if guilty. Given the standard set by the Suarez case, I think it will be highly likely that Terry will face further punishment (although not as severe) after the conclusion of the inquiry. The reason I believe it won't be as severe is the wording used to justify Suarez's punishment. My reasoning for that can be read here in my summary of Suarez's findings. Again, it is important to remember the burden of proof was significantly different in these two cases. One thing is for sure though, I believe "knobhead" has just officially entered the footballing lexicon.
As always, if I missed something, or misinterpreted it, please point it out and I will gladly reexamine it and/or fix it.