Football in the dock as trial of England defender John Terry kicks off

Slanging matches and industrial language dominate day one of Ferdinand race case

Westminster magistrates' court

The Premier League may have established itself as the richest game on earth but yesterday in courtroom one of Westminster magistrates' court it was looking anything like the shiny, engrossing, £3bn sport beloved of sponsors and fans all over the world.

In the dock behind glass was John Terry, the captain of the European champions Chelsea and former captain of the England team. On the witness stand, Anton Ferdinand, the Queen's Park Rangers defender, and two QCs navigating their way through the "industrial language" of football with more utterances of the words "f***" and "c***" than this court will ever have heard.

If the central aspect of the Crown Prosecution Service's case against Terry was not so serious, that he racially abused Ferdinand during the game between their two clubs on 23 October last year, then at times it would have been hard not to suppress a laugh.

The allegation made by the Crown that during the course of the game, Terry, following a row with Ferdinand and a physical clash, turned back towards the brother of Rio Ferdinand and said: "F*** off, f*** off... f****** black c***, f****** nobhead [sic]". Terry strenuously denies using the words as a racial slur but says he did use them in the context of challenging what he says was Ferdinand's original allegation, on the pitch, that he, Terry, had been abusive.

Terry's words, which were examined in depth yesterday by two expert lip-readers who have studied footage of the game at Loftus Road, were uttered, he said, as a "sarcastic exclamation" in "relation to the perceived false accusation", in the opening arguments by the Crown's counsel, Duncan Penny QC.

Giving evidence yesterday, Ferdinand admitted he had goaded Terry by making reference to the latter's alleged extramarital affair with Vanessa Perroncel, the ex-partner of Terry's former team-mate Wayne Bridge. It was this episode, and the fallout that accompanied it, that caused Terry to be stripped of the England captaincy for the first time in his career by Fabio Capello in February 2010.

In giving evidence to the court under questioning from Penny, Ferdinand admitted that he had used the allegations about Terry and Perroncel to wind up his opponent. "I said, 'How can you call me a 'c***'? You shagged your team-mate's missus. That's a c***."

If that sounded like an extraordinary exchange, then it was more than matched on a number of occasions during the day. When Ferdinand was asked to re-enact what he described as the "shagging gesture" which had accompanied his words to Terry – a pumping motion with a clenched fist – it is unlikely that Mr Howard Riddle, the district judge presiding, had witnessed such scenes in his courtroom before.

After the game, Ferdinand said he was ushered into the away dressing room by Chelsea's Ashley Cole. Terry then confronted Ferdinand with the question of whether he believed he had been racially abused. Ferdinand told the court: "He [Terry] said, 'Do you think I racially abused you?' I was like 'No'... then Ashley popped his head around the corner and said, 'Didn't you say that?'"

Ferdinand said that there would have been no question of him going to see Terry if he thought that he had been racially abused. Being sworn at was part of the game he said, but racial abuse was completely unacceptable.

Watched intently by Terry in the dock, Ferdinand said that he had been unaware of any suggestion of racial abuse from his opponent until long after the game when he joined his "girlfriend at the time" in the players' lounge at Loftus Road and she showed him a YouTube clip of the incident on her mobile phone.

George Carter-Stephenson QC, for the defence, said that Ferdinand had left his remarks about Terry and his alleged extramarital affair out of his original statement to the Football Association, given five days after the incident because he knew it would portray him in a negative light. The case continues.

 

Get Adobe Flash player

 



Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
sportWWE latest including Sting vs Triple H, Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns and The Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing