Skip to main content

UK soccer player John Terry not guilty of racist abuse

From Jonathan Wald, CNN
July 14, 2012 -- Updated 0650 GMT (1450 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: The English Football Association says it will "seek to conclude" its own inquiries
  • Terry is found not guilty of racially abusing fellow soccer player Anton Ferdinand
  • Prosecutors defend the decision to bring the case to trial
  • "We are pleased that John can now focus on football," Chelsea Football Club says

London (CNN) -- John Terry, one of England's biggest soccer stars, was found not guilty Friday of racially abusing fellow soccer player Anton Ferdinand, ending a high-profile trial in London.

Chief Magistrate Howard Riddle said of Terry: "No one has been able to show that he is lying."

Reading his ruling, Riddle said it was a crucial fact that no one heard what Terry said.

Terry, the Chelsea captain, sat impassively in the courtroom as the verdict was read out at Westminster Magistrates' Court. It was greeted by cheers from the public gallery.

What's your reaction to the verdict? Have your say on iReport

Riddle said he accepted it was possible that Terry himself thought Ferdinand had accused him of using racial abuse.

John Terry cleared of racial abuse
John Terry made his Chelsea debut as a substitute against Aston Villa in 1998. After a short loan spell with second-tier Nottingham Forest, Terry established himself in the Chelsea first team during the 2000-01 English Premier League season. John Terry made his Chelsea debut as a substitute against Aston Villa in 1998. After a short loan spell with second-tier Nottingham Forest, Terry established himself in the Chelsea first team during the 2000-01 English Premier League season.
Chelsea breakthrough
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
>
>>
Career of John Terry Career of John Terry
Chelsea beat Bayern Munich on penalties to win the Champions League trophy for the first time in their history Chelsea beat Bayern Munich on penalties to win the Champions League trophy for the first time in their history
Chelsea champions at last
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
>
>>
Chelsea parade Champions League trophy Chelsea parade Champions League trophy
Chelsea's players lift the Champions League for the first time after their dramatic win over Bayern Munich. Chelsea's players lift the Champions League for the first time after their dramatic win over Bayern Munich.
Champions League glory at last
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
>
>>
Chelsea win Champions League for the first time Chelsea win Champions League for the first time

But he also said he considered it "highly unlikely" that Ferdinand had accused Terry of calling him a "black c---."

Terry, who has received strong backing from Chelsea Football Club throughout the trial, left the court without addressing the public or media.

A statement issued on behalf of Terry by his legal team said he had been acquitted of all charges.

"He did not racially abuse Mr. Ferdinand and the court has accepted this. John would like to thank his legal team for their hard work and his family, friends and Chelsea Football Club for their support," the statement said.

Chelsea's chairman, Bruce Buck, welcomed the verdict, saying: "We at Chelsea are pleased that John Terry can now put his mind back to football."

The football club also said it respects the magistrate's decision to clear Terry.

"We are pleased that John can now focus on football and his preseason preparations with the team," it said in a statement on the official Chelsea website.

The English Football Association, which could still open its own disciplinary proceedings against Terry, said it noted the court's verdict and would "now seek to conclude its own enquiries."

Alison Saunders, chief crown prosecutor for London, defended the decision to bring the case to trial.

"The very serious allegation at the heart of this case was one of racial abuse. It was our view that this was not 'banter' on the football pitch and that the allegation should be judged by a court," she said in a prepared statement.

"The chief magistrate agreed that Mr. Terry had a case to answer, but having heard all of the evidence he acquitted Mr. Terry of a racially aggravated offense. That is justice being done and we respect the chief magistrate's decision."

The weeklong trial, during which the normally staid chambers got an earful of shockingly foul language, gripped the British press.

Terry, who was captain of the England national team at the time of the incident, was accused of calling Ferdinand, who plays for Queens Park Rangers, a "f------ black c---" as the pair traded insults during a game last October.

Terry did not deny directing a barrage of foul language at Ferdinand and referring to him as "black," but he denied engaging in racist abuse.

He told the court that he was repeating what he mistakenly thought Ferdinand had accused him of saying.

The highly unusual criminal prosecution over words uttered on a soccer field comes as English soccer officials fight to stamp racism out of the sport, with mixed results.

Lord Herman Ouseley, the chairman of UK football's anti-racism campaign, Kick It Out, said it would wait to hear the conclusions of the Football Association with regard to the Terry case.

"It will be interesting to hear from other organizations this will impact on, from governing bodies to leagues and clubs, and how they deem matters like this to be dealt with in the future," he said in a statement.

Terry was stripped of his England captaincy after a preliminary court hearing on the racism charge in February.

CNN's Matthew Chance and Laura Smith-Spark contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
August 15, 2014 -- Updated 1151 GMT (1951 HKT)
Last season Jose Mourinho wrote off the title of hopes of his "little horse" -- but now he has a squad primed to dethrone Manchester City.
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 1858 GMT (0258 HKT)
Luis Suarez will have to wait until late October to make his competitive Barcelona debut his ban for biting an opponent was partially upheld.
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 1649 GMT (0049 HKT)
Can Louis van Gaal cut it at Manchester United? Will Bayern conquer all in Germany? Is this PSG's year to win the Champions League?
August 7, 2014 -- Updated 1012 GMT (1812 HKT)
It's been a difficult year for Barcelona on and off the pitch, and the signing of Luis Suarez has only increased the prospect of more controversy.
August 11, 2014 -- Updated 1435 GMT (2235 HKT)
Germany striker Miroslav Klose, who scored a total of 16 goals at four World Cup finals, has announced his retirement from international football.
July 31, 2014 -- Updated 1145 GMT (1945 HKT)
Cultural y Deportivo Leonesa line up in their tuxedo kit.
When celebrating an important anniversary, it's always good to look your best. At least that's theory for a Spanish football team's preseason tuxedo kit.
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 1103 GMT (1903 HKT)
While many top European clubs are targeting the U.S. market, French football is setting its sights on expanding into Asia -- with China playing a key role.
July 27, 2014 -- Updated 1229 GMT (2029 HKT)
Major League Soccer has snared another big name from England with former Chelsea star Frank Lampard committing his future to New York City FC.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1656 GMT (0056 HKT)
Europe's top clubs have booked a summer holiday to the U.S. -- but this is business not pleasure as they look to cash in on the World Cup afterglow.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1828 GMT (0228 HKT)
Brazil's new coach Dunga won the World Cup as a player in 1994.
Former World Cup-winning captain Dunga is appointed coach of Brazil's national team for the second time, charged with restoring national pride.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1420 GMT (2220 HKT)
Colombia's World Cup star James Rodriguez continues Real Madrid's long tradition of signing "Galacticos."
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1007 GMT (1807 HKT)
Germany's World Cup-winning captain Philipp Lahm has decided to go out at the top by announcing his retirement from international football.
ADVERTISEMENT