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
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?