The former England international John Barnes, one of the nation's pioneering black footballers, said last night that John Terry should play international football again despite an independent commission finding the player guilty of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand.
Terry, 31, was given a four-match suspension and a £220,000 fine by the four-man regulatory commission who found him guilty of a racial insult directed at the Queen's Park Rangers defender Ferdinand in Chelsea's Premier League fixture at Loftus Road on 23 October last year.
Terry, who was cleared of a criminal charge relating to the same incident in July, responded with a statement from his representatives that he was "disappointed" with the verdict but would consider the commission's full written reasons before he made a decision on whether to appeal.
Barnes, above, who won 79 England caps between 1983 and 1995, said that Terry was guilty of "unconscious racism", a condition he claimed was widespread in society. He said Terry, should be allowed to play again for his country if he made himself available once he had served his suspension.
Barnes said: "You serve your punishment and that should be that. Absolutely. Luis Suarez can play for Uruguay again. Of course [Terry] can play for England again. I don't think it's an issue for him to play for England again. The FA's decision has no bearing on that at all.
"I would never, ever say John Terry is a racist, but I would say John Terry is no more or less racist than anyone else. I actually have a bit of empathy with John Terry. Ninety-nine per cent of us, me included, are unconscious racists."
Terry's punishment differs to that of Luis Suarez who was found guilty of breaking the same Football Association rules, E3(1) and E3(2), last year and given an eight-match ban and a £40,000 fine. In the written reasons for Suarez's punishment, the commission hearing his case said that the repetition of the word "negro" was "significantly more serious than a one-off use" and his ban was increased accordingly.
Should Terry choose to accept the verdict today he will miss the game against Arsenal tomorrow and Premier League matches in October. He would, however, be permitted to play in the Champions League.
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