England manager Roy Hodgson faced with John Terry selection dilemma


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The Independent Football

Roy Hodgson was today facing another dilemma over whether to pick John Terry for England after the Football Association decided the defender still had a case to answer over allegations of racist abuse.

A fortnight after being acquitted by a court of a racially aggravated public order offence against QPR defender Ferdinand in October, Chelsea captain Terry was charged by the FA over the same incident.

Despite being given a week to respond, Terry's reaction was instant, the 31-year-old saying in a statement released to Press Association Sport: "I deny the charge and I will be requesting the opportunity to attend the commission for a personal hearing."

It had not been decided last night when that personal hearing would be but the FA said Terry would be available to play for England until their independent disciplinary commission reached a verdict.

The country's next game is a friendly against Italy on August 15, with manager Hodgson expected to name his squad days earlier.

Hodgson suffered widespread criticism for picking Terry instead of Ferdinand's brother, Rio, for the European Championship while the former was still awaiting criminal trial.

The England boss would be in another invidious position if a saga which has already dragged on for more than nine months were not finally resolved before the match in Berne.

Terry was found not guilty of calling Ferdinand a "f****** black c***" during a five-day trial at Westminster Magistrates Court that ended just over two weeks ago, with District Judge Howard Riddle ruling there was reasonable doubt whether the words were intended as an insult.

Terry has always maintained they were not, insisting they formed part of a denial to an accusation of racism from Ferdinand during Chelsea's Barclays Premier League defeat at QPR on October 23.

The Blues skipper was acquitted on that basis but the FA refused to drop their own investigation into the matter, which they had put on hold the moment Terry was charged with a criminal offence.

They confirmed last night they had sought advice from "an external Independent QC" and had also taken into account the trial evidence and verdict before deciding to act.

Whereas the prosecution in court had to prove Terry's guilt beyond reasonable doubt, the FA disciplinary commission can reach verdicts purely on the balance of probabilities, a much lower burden of proof.

They did just that in December when Liverpool striker Luis Suarez was handed an eight-match ban for racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra.

Terry could face even more dire consequences if found guilty.

He has already lost the England captaincy over the mere allegation of racism and his international career would effectively be ended by a guilty verdict.

That would also place enormous pressure on Chelsea, where he has been skipper for more than eight years, and who have taken a hard line on racism among their own supporters.