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Saturday, July 14, 2012

'Shock. F***ing joke': Black players' backlash John Terry is acquitted of racism in case that dragged football into gutter

•Cheers erupt as verdict delivered at Westminster Magistrates' Court
•Magistrate: 'Impossible to be sure what were the words spoken by Mr Terry'
•Former England skipper refuses to comment as he leaves court
•Ferdinand's shell-shocked mother, Janice, also declines a response
•Chelsea captain, 31, denied using racist obscenity about defender last year
•Claims he sarcastically repeated slur Ferdinand wrongly thought he'd used

By Tom Kelly and Chris Greenwood

Black footballers across the country have expressed concerns after Chelsea captain John Terry was sensationally acquitted of racism.

The former England captain marched out of court in silence yesterday after a judge said it was impossible to prove he was guilty.

The verdict wipes the slate clean for the controversial Chelsea player and he is expected to fight to lead his country once again.

Scroll down for videos of John Terry leaving court and his rant at Ferdinand during match

Cameron Jerome of Stoke City (left) and Fitz Hall formerly of Queens Park Rangers (Right) took to Twitter to vent their frustration over the John Terry racism case

Relieved: The former England captain is flanked by security as passes throngs of supporters and the press

Stony-faced: Terry refused to comment as he left the court building to shouts of support from crowds waiting outside

Many black British players remain unconvinced and have taken to social networks like Twitter to vent their frustration.

Cameron Jerome who plays for premiership club Stoke City tweeted: 'Very interesting verdict say no more about the uk justice system then. May as well go behave how we want people.

'May as well go rob a bank and when I get caught just say was only banter and they started it by calling me names lol.'

And Fitz Hall, a midfielder, who last season played for Queens Park Rangers Tweeted ' Shock, F***ing Joke'.

Former Manchester United and Tottenham striker Garth Crooks turned BBC sports pundit claimed Terry will now be under examination from the Football Association, despite his criminal acquittal.

He said: ‘He’s still under investigation by the FA based on what he’s admitted — saying those words. I’m afraid for John Terry this is only half-time. This is not over.

Serious questions remain over why the case was brought to trial when alleged victim Anton Ferdinand did not initially appear to support the investigation.

It was only when an off-duty police officer complained to Scotland Yard two days after the incident that inquiries began.

Prosecutors later chose to bring charges despite inconclusive statements from the QPR player.

The Crown Prosecution Service said the acquittal was ‘justice being done’ and insisted there was enough evidence to bring the case to trial.

But one legal source said: ‘It was a high-profile case and no one wants to be the person who signs off a decision to drop it or dispose of it in another way. You could say letting it run to court is the path of least resistance.

‘But it is also the most expensive and a verdict like this leaves no winners.’

Cheers greeted the verdict at the end of a five-day trial at Westminster Magistrates’ Court. Chelsea fans popped bottles of champagne outside as Terry’s family and friends celebrated and hugged each other in the public gallery.

The multi-millionaire defender was prosecuted over an ugly clash that lasted fewer than 35 seconds in a match last October watched by more than two million fans on television.

Shell-shocked: Anton Ferdinand's mother, Janice (right), looks stunned as she leaves court after the ruling

Full backing: A Chelsea fan shows his delight as crowds of supporters celebrate the verdict outside court

Making their views known: Chelsea fans hold a banner bearing the words 'JT Captain leader legend' after the verdict

He was accused of hurling a volley of racist abuse at Ferdinand, whose brother is Terry’s England team-mate Rio, after being taunted over his affair with a team-mate’s girlfriend.

He admitted calling him a ‘f****** black c***’ and a ‘f****** k***head’ as they squared up on the pitch.

But the 31-year-old claimed he was simply repeating the words after being falsely accused of saying them. As the pair traded insults, he claims to have heard Ferdinand say: ‘Calling me a black c***?’, and to have replied: ‘A black c***? You f****** k***head.’

The players met in the Chelsea changing room after the match and shook hands, writing it all off as ‘handbags’ and on-pitch ‘banter’.

Even when he was shown footage of the incident on YouTube, Ferdinand did nothing.

But an off-duty police officer watching on TV, who claimed to be able to lip read, complained to the Met that a racially-aggravated offence had taken place.

In the weeks that followed Terry was stripped of the England captaincy and lost a fortune in sponsorship deals. England manager Fabio Capello resigned in a row over the move.

Yesterday chief magistrate Howard Riddle, who is also a district judge, said there was not enough evidence to prove ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ that Terry was guilty.

He said TV footage did not show the complete exchange, meaning it was impossible to be sure exactly what was said. ‘In those circumstances, there being a doubt, the only verdict the court can record is one of not guilty,’ he said.

Nervous: The former England captain was escorted by security past a phalanx of press photographers and TV cameras into the court

Anticipation: Terry enters the court surrounded by security as he prepares for the verdict by Chief Magistrate Howard Riddle

Apprehension: Anton Ferdinand's mother Janice arrives at today to hear the verdict after the four-day trial over the alleged racial abuse of her son

Even if he had been convicted, Terry would have faced a fine of just £2,500, a fraction of his reported £130,000 weekly wage.

But taxpayers will pick up a bill of up to £500,000 for the prosecution.
Prosecution fees, judicial salaries, court running costs and the complex police inquiry could easily add up to £250,000.

And the figure could even double if the judge awards costs to the Chelsea footballer’s gold-plated legal team.

Legal experts often claim that every minute of a high-profile court case costs £100 – excluding the inflated salaries of the barristers.

This would mean the week-long hearing alone cost some £150,000. Scotland Yard declined to say how much it cost to put together a case file on the confrontation.

Charged: John Terry (left) had been accused of calling QPR defender Anton Ferdinand (right) a 'f****** black c*** during a Premier League game on October 23 last year

Key moment: Terry and QPR's Anton Ferdinand clash during the Barclays Premier League match at Loftus Road

But a team of detectives worked around the clock getting statements from players, compiling footage and instructing experts, including a lip reader.

Lawyer Graham Sheer, who also acts as a spokesman for Terry’s team-mate Ashley Cole, said: ‘They should have thought more carefully about this prosecution. As I understand it, Anton didn’t even complain, it was almost a manufactured complaint.’
Ferdinand’s parents left court looking shell-shocked. Terry refused to comment as he was whisked away minutes later.

Alison Saunders, London’s chief crown prosecutor, defended the decision to bring the case to court and said the verdict was ‘justice being done’. She added: ‘It was our view that this was not “banter” on the football pitch and that the allegation should be judged by a court.’

Not present: QPR footballer Anton Ferdinand, pictured leaving Heathrow for a tour of the Far East today, was not in court for the verdict

Accuser: Anton Ferdinand pictured leaving Westminster Magistrates' Court after giving evidence. The prosecution claimed Ferdinand was 'inconsistent and unreliable both on words and events'

'Provoked':The prosecution had claimed that Terry's rant was in response to goading from Ferdinand about his affair with Vanessa Perroncel (left), the ex-girlfriend of his former team-mate Wayne Bridge (right)

On the stand: Terry (right) answers questions from defence barrister George Carter-Stephenson during the trial

In the dock: John Terry watches on as his alleged race abuse victim Anton Ferdinand gives evidence in this artist's impression of proceedings
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