FA in tricky position in Terry-Ferdinand row
Published: 25.07.12 / Written by: David Gold
English football is enduring one of the most damaging episodes in its recent history with the divisive court case which concluded last week into allegations John Terry racially abused Anton Ferdinand.
As it happens, Terry admits using racist language, only in the context of questioning whether Ferdinand thought he’d accused him of saying something he hadn’t said.
Apparently Terry’s response, in which he used the racist term, was sarcastic. Out came the evidence from close friends like Jose Mourinho defending his character, whilst Ashley Cole was quick to defend his captain. Terry was subsequently cleared of racist abuse by the judge, who nevertheless found his defence questionable. But the conclusion was that there was not the concrete evidence necessary to find Terry guilty of the crime levelled at him for what he said to the QPR defender.
But now Ferdinand’s brother Rio has ignited the row further on twitter with a response to another user seeming to accuse Ashley Cole of betraying other black players with his actions. The row is a dangerous and divisive one which threatens to boil over on the pitch next season.
There are two names though which are rather quietly in the background in this whole affair. Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra.
Suarez was last season found guilty by the FA of using racist language towards Evra and banned for eight matches. Suarez insisted that he was not using the term ‘negro’ in an offensive way, and that in his country, people are referred to by their skin colour all the time. Indeed it is true that Uruguay is not a country with a history of racism, and so the meaning of words we find offensive are just normal there. For Suarez, effectively, calling someone “negro” is like someone in Britain calling someone “blondie”, as Liverpool apparently used to with Dirk Kuyt.
Whatever the rights and wrongs, Suarez and Terry have both admitted using racist language. But both deny they were being racist. Suarez has served an eight match ban. Terry has been acquitted. The difference?
Terry’s case was heard in a court of law. Certainly there is no evidence strong enough to say Terry was racist, or even is racist. Few suggest that. As it is, Terry is most likely not racist, and frankly the reason many are cynical about the court case is just because they don’t like the Chelsea skipper. But everyone is entitled to a fair trial and we should accept that Terry has been found not guilty. He is not a racist and should not be labelled as one. But that does not mean he is a nice person, or that people should like him – they don’t with good reason as he is one of the most divisive players in the sport.
But the FA are the ones with the problem now. They charged Suarez and banned him. Suarez never went to court, and if he had, based on the Terry case, one may speculate and predict a similar outcome to the Chelsea player. But for the FA to suspend him for eight games without evidence proving he said what he said with racist intent, it would be hypocritical if they did not give Terry a similar ban. Terry has admitted using racist language, but the FA’s logic is that even if you are not being racist, simply using language which is perceived as racist leads to a punishment of eight games or more. For their credibility, they cannot hold a double standard in this case. Either that, or they apologise to Suarez. The Uruguayan should not hold his breath.