The John Terry-Anton Ferdinand trial has beyond doubt been a horrific affair but I still think it should never have taken place at all. Indeed it seems to me a classic case of the police wasting police time. For it was an off duty policeman who – though not at the ill starred QPR-Chelsea match, it seems, reported Terry’s supposed outburst of racist expletives against Ferdinand; which prompted the Metropolitan Police, who surely have better things to do, to bring the court case against Terry, thereby gazumping the Football Association who were reportedly all ready to deal with it. Just as they had dealt so condignly with the Luiz Suarez-Evra business.
Instead we have had the ludicrously long delay before the case came at last to the Westminster court, absurdly overburdened with highly paid and superfluous QCs on either side, taking up five days of surely excessive time. And all – a fact which has been insufficiently stressed – with the prospect even if Terry were found guilty of a fine of no more than £2,500, which the millionaire Terry would presumably have taken out of his back pocket.
Neither player comes out of this episode with glittering colours. If Terry’s flood of invective, whether or not it was addressed directly to Ferdinand, was notably obscene, then the identical provocation seemed to come from Ferdinand himself, jeering Terry for having an extra-marital affair with the “missus” of another player. Except, of course, that she wasn’t the missus at all, but the ex, and I emphasise the word ex, mistress of the former England left back, Wayne Bridge.
Parallels with the recent Harry Redknapp case should be resisted. Though there is some reason the explore the fact that it was pursued for so long and at such enormous expense, there did seem an ominous possibility that Harry would lose it. In the end, it appeared to come down to whether the jury, whose decision it was rather than that of the judge, believed Harry or the prosecution, whose stories were completely irreconcilable. Hallelujah. They believed Harry.
The hapless magistrate at the Westminster Court gave a verdict which, in a Scottish court, would probably have been Not Proven. The evidence he clearly felt was too ambiguous. Something which should surely have occurred to both police and prosecution before they turned their guns on Terry.
Give a dog a bad name and hang him, you might think. Terry is an outstanding footballer who thoroughly deserved to be preferred to the Ferdinand, Rio, for the recent Euros, given that the Anton case had clearly made relations between Terry and Rio irreconcilable. As indeed, has been emphasised by Rio’s aggressive “tweets” since the trial.
But the fact that the trial took place put the FA in an impossible position. Ideally they would have liked to bring Terry and perhaps even Anton in front of their disciplinary committee, but the verdict in Westminster cut the ground from under their feet.
Terry, over the years, has been involved in a plethora of unfortunate incidents. He was one of the Chelsea players who callously jeered at American travellers at Heathrow airport over the appalling 9/11 atrocity. He asked large sums of money, millionaire though he was, for showing fans around the training ground. He once urinated into a glass in a bar. Racism is vile, racism is despicable.