Court kicks around volley of expletives as Terry trial starts

Former England captain accused of racially abusing rival player says he was being 'sarcastic'

Crowd control barriers kept back the banks of photographers; an excited fan waited kerbside in his Chelsea shirt. The latest, long-awaited clash between titans of the Premiership saw an impatient queue stretch down the road. Then, inside Westminster magistrates' court, it was kick-off, as two well-dressed and well-paid young men relived an on-pitch confrontation viewed by an estimated two million people around the world.

"You shagged your team-mate's missus, you're the c***," a court heard one told the other. "F**ing black c***, f***ing knobhead," the second replied.

In a case liberally sprinkled with profanities said to be part of the lingua franca of the modern game, John Terry, 31 – England player and captain of Chelsea – was in the dock accused of racially abusing a player who goaded him over an affair with a teammate's partner.

The case stemmed from a disputed penalty claim that led Mr Terry and Anton Ferdinand, of Queen's Park Rangers, to trade insults in the closing minutes of their Premiership match last October. Mr Ferdinand pursued the Chelsea player up the pitch making an arm gesture to indicate sex and "shouting his head off" about Mr Terry's affair with the partner of Chelsea team-mate, Wayne Bridge, the court heard.

The court was then showed footage of the incident from a series of camera positions in which an initially smiling Mr Terry appears to say: "f*** off, f*** off… you f***ing black c***. F***ing knobhead".

Mr Terry does not deny using the series of expletives but claims that it was a "sarcastic exclamation" to deny that he had racially abused Mr Ferdinand earlier in their confrontation. Mr Terry, who denies the racially aggravated public order offence, faces a fine of up to £2,500 if found guilty.

The court heard that "industrial language" was part-and-parcel of the football field. "If someone calls you a c*** that's fine," Mr Ferdinand told the court yesterday. "If someone puts colour into it, it takes it to a new level. That's very hurtful."

Mr Ferdinand said he did not learn of the words uttered by Mr Terry until he saw television footage via YouTube sent to his girlfriend's mobile phone after the game that QPR won 1-0.

Mr Ferdinand told the court that the incident started and escalated after the players barged into each other and Mr Terry made to cover his face to indicate that the QPR defender's breath smelled.

In an interview with the Football Association given within five days of the incident, Mr Terry said goading about his affair with Vanessa Perroncel was "not the first time that I've heard it so it's with a pinch of salt a little bit now".

The court heard that Mr Ferdinand was in the changing room when he received a message via the team's kitman to meet Mr Terry. He said that Mr Terry asked him what happened and if the QPR defender believed that he had been racially abused. Mr Terry suggested that the dispute was "handbags" and they shook hands. Mr Terry's legal team claimed that the pair had a discussion about their shared property interests in Surrey before they went their separate ways.

Mr Ferdinand told the court that it would have been "an altercation not a conversation" if he was aware of the language used by Mr Terry. "It would have been a fight. I wouldn't have taken kindly to being racially abused," he said.

In cross-examination, George Carter-Stephenson, QC, suggested that he tried to get Mr Terry prosecuted after speaking with an agent, Justin Rigby. Mr Rigby, a PR agent for Mr Ferdinand, said he had learned through a Sunday tabloid newspaper that police were to take no further action. This would have ramifications for black players as it would be "perceived as a white man's word against a black man's word", Mr Carter-Stephenson told the court.

"You added a racial element into it to provoke Mr Terry when all other attempts had failed, is that right?" Mr Carter-Stephenson said. Mr Ferdinand denied the suggestion.

The case continues.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz