Red faces all round as players' murky world is exposed in John Terry racism court case

A low point for football on a landmark day as foul language and embarrassed lip-readers dominate proceedings

It was the moment when Anton Ferdinand was asked to demonstrate to the court the "shagging gesture" he had directed at John Terry that one assumed was the low-point of the day's proceedings at Westminster magistrates' court.

But then there was also the two lip-reading experts, one of them a profoundly deaf woman, approaching her senior years, who were forced to pick their way through the "industrial language" of two Premier League footballers for the benefit of the court. The first of the two, Susan Whitewood, instinctively said "Excuse me" before she first uttered the phrase "black c***".

The case of Regina v John Terry, for a racially aggravated offence contrary to section 5 of the Public Order Act 1996, may be a landmark for English football but listening to it unfold yesterday did the game – as we know it – no favours at all.

The first day of a trial to decide whether Terry called Ferdinand a "black c***" during the Premier League game between Queen's Park Rangers and Chelsea on 23 October last year laid bare what really takes place during an elite-level English football match and much of it was embarrassing.

At first, the counsel for the prosecution, Duncan Penny QC, had to tell Ferdinand not to apologise or hold back when it came to the foul language that is a central part of the case but very soon after that, it was impossible to keep count of the amount of times the words "c***", "shagging" and the phrase "f****** black c***" had been used.

For Ferdinand, there was the blunt admission that he had called Terry "a c***" for "shagging a team-mate's missus", as well as goading him with a "gesture". He was asked by Penny how many times he had used the insult against Terry. "I couldn't tell you," Ferdinand replied.

The nature of Ferdinand's evidence was that on a football pitch, any kind of abuse was permissible, albeit with one glaring exception. "If someone calls you a c*** that's fine but if someone puts your colour into it takes it to another level," Ferdinand told the court. "It's very hurtful."

Ferdinand sipped regularly from a cup of water in front of him and, when under pressure from the defence counsel, Mr George Carter-Stephenson QC, he tended to look over at his family, including his mother Janice, in the public gallery as if seeking help on an answer.

At one point during his evidence, Ferdinand began to twist left and right at the waist as if he was warming up for a match rather than preparing for cross-examination from the defence. At other times, he struggled to keep his emotions in check such as when he was questioned on the role of his PR adviser Justin Rigby, and who it was who paid for his services.

On that occasion, Ferdinand responded by asking what relevance it had on the case. At other times, he addressed Mr Carter-Stephenson as "sir". Asked whether he was wound up during the game between QPR and Chelsea, Ferdinand described himself as a "calm and collected person".

Asked whether what was described as Terry's attempts to win a penalty following the challenge on him by Ferdinand that led to their incident had made him angry, Ferdinand responded: "Yes, because I'm a winner."

The exchanges between the two men that prefaced the key incident also featured Terry waving his hand in front of his face to suggest that Ferdinand had "bad breath". "He called me a c***, I called him a c*** back and he gave me the gesture that my breath smelled," Ferdinand told the court.

The evidence from Ferdinand portrayed the west London derby at Loftus Road, which ended in a 1-0 victory for the home side against a team reduced to nine men by the end of the game, as a tense occasion. There was a stand-off in the tunnel after the game, Mr Carter-Stephenson told the court, in which "both captains had to usher their teams back to the dressing room to prevent problems".

Afterwards, Ferdinand was sent a message by Terry via the QPR kitman that the Chelsea captain wanted to meet up and was brought into the away dressing room by Ashley Cole. Cole had, the court heard, originally told Ferdinand on the pitch at the end of the game that he could "not talk to JT like that". It was in the meeting in the dressing room that Terry asked Ferdinand whether he was alleging the Chelsea man had racially abused him.

"He said to me 'What happened, geez?'" Ferdinand said. "'Geez' is short for geezer, right?" responded the Crown counsel. The two players agreed there that there had been no racial abuse and that it was, in Ferdinand's words, "handbags". "Yeah, handbags, banter, nothing serious," Ferdinand said.

Later, once he had seen the clip on YouTube shown to him by his girlfriend, and become aware of the alleged racial element, Ferdinand was asked under cross-examination from Carter-Stephenson why he had not reported it sooner. "I had training the next day," he said. "But that didn't stop your mouth working did it?" Carter-Stephenson replied.

Later in his cross-examination, Ferdinand's answers suggested that he had always been reluctant to bring the issue to the police. "It was more about what happens on the pitch and I wanted the FA [Football Association] to deal with it."

Sitting alone behind the glass frontage of the dock, Terry was brought cups of water by a courtroom security guard. Once Ferdinand was dismissed, there was a detailed examination of the evidence from the two lip-reading experts by both sides and the tension that had accompanied Ferdinand's appearance dissipated. For the Premier League, however, the evidence of the secret world of its footballers will not be dispelled so quickly.

A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn