Anton Ferdinand dismissed John Terry insults as 'banter', court hears

 

Footballer Anton Ferdinand dismissed insults traded with John Terry as "banter" and initially denied any racist obscenity had been used, a court heard today.

England and Chelsea defender Terry, 31, is accused of calling Ferdinand a "f****** black c***" during a Premier League game on October 23 last year.

Today Westminster Magistrates' Court heard that at first Queens Park Rangers centre-half Ferdinand did not think any racist insult had been used.

He shook hands with Terry and accepted that their clash was "handbags" and "banter".

But after the match, his then girlfriend showed him a clip of their exchange posted on YouTube, and he believed Terry had used the racist obscenity.

Ferdinand told the court that if he had realised at the time he would have told officials.

He said: "I would have been obviously very hurt and I probably wouldn't have reacted at the time because, being a professional, you can't do that. I probably would have let the officials know what happened and dealt with it after the game.

"When someone brings your colour into it, it takes it to another level and it's very hurtful."

Chelsea were down to nine men in the clash at Loftus Road, and Ferdinand and Terry began trading insults over a penalty claim, the court heard.

Ferdinand said: "He called me a c*** and I called him a c*** back and he gave me a gesture as if to say my breath smelled.

"I said to him, 'How can you call me a c***? You shagged your team-mate's missus, you're a c***'."

This was a reference to Terry's alleged affair with Wayne Bridge's ex-girlfriend, Vanessa Perroncel.

Ferdinand jogged down the pitch making a fist gesture to imply sex, he told the court.

After the match, Chelsea left-back Ashley Cole told him: "You can't talk to JT like that."

Terry then met Ferdinand to ask what had happened.

"Mr Terry said, 'Do you think I racially abused you?'. I was like. 'No'," Ferdinand told the court.

"I said 'No, that never came out of my mouth'. Then Ashley Cole popped his head round and said 'Yeah, didn't you say that to me?' I said 'I didn't say that at all'."

Terry is accused of a racially aggravated public order offence, which he denies.

He maintains that he was only sarcastically repeating what Ferdinand wrongly thought he had said.

In cross-examination by George Carter-Stephenson QC, for Terry, Ferdinand said he was no stranger to being sworn at and agreed he had also sworn at players.

The QPR defender said he was angry at Terry trying to get a penalty and "he barged me in the back for no reason", he said.

Proceedings in Court One have been punctuated by swear words but Ferdinand insisted he did not use those words off the pitch.

The QC asked the witness if by shouting abuse at him he was "trying to get a rise out of Mr Terry and get him to react?"

"Probably, yes," said Ferdinand.

"There wasn't long left in the game."

Doreen Lawrence, mother of murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence, attended today's hearing and sat in the public gallery.

Mr Carter-Stephenson suggested that Ferdinand made up the allegation of racism as swearing at him and talking about his alleged affair was not having "the desired effect" of winding Terry up.

Ferdinand denied this.

Mr Carter-Stephenson said: "So you decided to increase the level and accuse him of being a racist."

"No," said Mr Ferdinand.

"Words to the effect of 'calling me a black c***'."

"No," said the player.

"And he responded to it, didn't he?" the barrister continued.

Again, Ferdinand answered "No", before agreeing that levelling the accusation would be serious.

Mr Carter-Stephenson said Cole asked Ferdinand during the discussion after the match: "Did you think JT called you a black c***?

"You know he isn't like that."

Mr Carter-Stephenson said Ferdinand only decided to go to police when persuaded by his agent Justin Rigby.

Ferdinand denied this, saying: "No, I made up my own mind, I wanted to do it."

In re-examination, he said he was initially reluctant to talk to the police because it was a sporting issue.

"This is a footballing issue that happened on the football pitch where we work," Ferdinand told the court.

The trial, expected to last five days, continues tomorrow.

PA

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