The Chelsea and England footballer John Terry yesterday denied that he had "snapped" and used a racially abusive term, telling a court he had been subjected to so much abuse over an alleged affair with a former team-mate's girlfriend he no longer reacted to it.
Mr Terry, 31, gave evidence on the second day of his trial at Westminster magistrates' court for the alleged racial abuse of the Queens Park Rangers footballer Ferdinand during a game between their clubs last October.
Prosecutor Mr Duncan Penny accused him of having "snapped" at Mr Ferdinand over a sexual taunt.
Accusing Mr Terry of calling Mr Ferdinand a "f****** black c***" Mr Penny said: "The truth of the matter is you are not a racist but you used racist language. You snapped. It was instinctive. You were fed up with people abusing you over the issue with your wife."
In reference to that alleged affair with Vanessa Perroncel, former partner of his ex-Chelsea team-mate Wayne Bridge, Mr Terry replied: "I didn't snap. It was almost two years ago. I have heard it hundreds of times, a million times ... I would have snapped long before if that was the case. I have had 78,000 people in a stadium chanting it at me."
There was a culture among top footballers that they would find, Mr Penny said, "a point of vulnerability" with an opponent and then direct abuse at him. "When you abuse each other you use common-or-garden swearwords, c***, p****, f*** ... or other things, 'You are ugly' or 'You are fat'," Mr Penny said. "Comments about mothers?" Mr Terry replied: "I have had that".
Mr Penny said although there were "no-go areas" players considered inappropriate for abuse, "wives and girlfriends" were fair game.
Mr Terry admitted that "girls are part and parcel" of the abuse exchanged by players on the pitch but said he was "in shock" when he realised Mr Ferdinand was accusing him of having racially abused him. He said he repeated the abusive term back to Mr Ferdinand in disbelief at the accusation.
Earlier, the court had heard a recording of Mr Terry's interview with the Football Association official Jenny Kennedy, who began conducting an investigation before it was overtaken by the police inquiry. Mr Terry told Ms Kennedy: "I could have got 2,000 people in here [to attest he was not a racist]."
He also said in a statement to police read to the court that he had worked for charities established by former Chelsea players Didier Drogba, from the Ivory Coast and Marcel Desailly, from France, to do work in Africa. "My commitment to these projects demonstrates I am not a racist," he said.
For the defence, Mr George Carter-Stephenson QC said that Mr Ferdinand was an "unreliable witness" who had failed to mention his abuse of Mr Terry in his original statement to the FA. Detective Constable David Doherty said that Mr Ferdinand lived an "unstructured life" away from football and proved difficult to contact. Mr Terry denies the charge. The case continues.