What an appalling spectacle the John Terry criminal trial presented at Westminster Magistrates Court this week! Terry was being tried for Racially Aggravated Insulting words or Behaviour. The maximum penalty if convicted by the ChiefDistrict Judge was a fine of £2500.
The trial lasted 5 days and no doubt cost thousands. If convicted Terry would undoubtedly have appealed to the Crown Court and the cycle would have started all over again. In the event Terry was acquitted.
There were no winners. The evidence of Anton Ferdinand and the cross examination of him by Carter Stephenson QC guaranteed that the so called ‘Professional Game’ of Association Football would be revealed to be about as professional as a vicious game of British Bulldog in the playground. Whilst the ‘Billion Pound’ business of football is marketed to the World, Terry and Ferdinand, on their own admission, no doubt evincing a widespread culture within the game, engaged in an unedifying and puerile battle of verbal abuse designed, supposedly, to put each other off their games.
Although they are probably not intelligent enough to realise it, this trial marks a nadir from which they and probably football in this country may never recover. It almost does not matter who wins and who loses, and I am lost now in the who said what when of it all. Both these players, by their conduct have dragged the game and the name of those who play it into the gutter. No wonder Ferdinand did not want to complain to the Police. Who would want his admitted conduct scrutinised before the world. He said in court that he is a ‘Winner’. That’s a joke, even without a meaningful analysis of his footballing record.
Don’t get me wrong, racial abuse is totally unacceptable. Terry should have been before the FA in the week following the game, and if found guilty of racial abuse, banned for a lengthy period. There seems to be to be no worthwhile distinction between this case and that of Luis Suarez. No Police, FA Charge, Tribunal, verdict and banned for 8 games. No appeal either!
I am no supporter of John Terry – read my other posts elsewhere, but I cannot help thinking that Terry was before the court because he is John Terry. That is not right. And this endless circus will go on damaging the soul of the game for a lot longer.
Now is the time for the FA to stamp out the behaviour and tolerated culture behind this incident, the childish, boorish abuse of players and officials. At the eleventh hour we might just then benefit from a less poisonous and vindictive atmosphere within our football grounds generally.
Anton Ferdinand and John Terry should now be up before the FA for bringing the game into disrepute. They have no defence. A significant ban might just allow football a small glimmer of fresh hope for a more dignified and professional game.
Let me know what you think @GibbsBarrister