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Cole apologizes for outburst over Terry racism case

By Piers Edwards, CNN
October 5, 2012 -- Updated 1532 GMT (2332 HKT)
Ashley Cole (right) may incur an FA sanction after his outburst in response to a report which highlighted 'inconsistencies' in the evidence he gave in support of Chelsea team mate John Terry (left) following his racial comments towards Anton Ferdinand last year
Ashley Cole (right) may incur an FA sanction after his outburst in response to a report which highlighted 'inconsistencies' in the evidence he gave in support of Chelsea team mate John Terry (left) following his racial comments towards Anton Ferdinand last year
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • England international Ashley Cole apologizes after calling Football Association a 'bunch of twats'
  • Cole responding to FA report casting doubt on his evidence in defense of team mate John Terry on racism charges
  • Terry's own evidence described as "improbable, implausible and contrived"
  • Cole removes outburst after it is re-tweeted 19,000 times

(CNN) -- Chelsea and England defender Ashley Cole ensured the continuation of one of the most rancorous sagas in the history of the English game when labeling the country's Football Association (FA) a "bunch of twats" on Friday.

The 31-year-old took to Twitter to refute the findings of an FA disciplinary panel which cast "considerable doubt" over evidence he gave in defense of former England captain John Terry, who was found guilty last month of racially abusing Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand.

Ferdinand is the brother of Manchester United star Rio Ferdinand, whose comments about former England colleague Cole and strained relations with onetime defensive partner Terry have contributed to what one leading football official has described as a "'mafia feud".

'Hahahahaa, well done #fa I lied did I, #BUNCHOFTWATS,' Cole tweeted, so courting a possible misconduct charge himself from the very organization he was criticizing.

We are driven to conclude not just that it is 'highly unlikely' that Mr. Ferdinand accused Mr. Terry on the pitch of calling him a 'black ****', but that he did not
FA report

Cole, who is set to join up with the England squad after the weekend for two forthcoming World Cup qualifiers, has since deleted the tweet that was re-tweeted over 19,000 times and apologized for his remarks.

"I had just finished training and saw the captions on the TV screens in the treatment rooms about what was said in the FA Commission ruling about me," a statement issued by the player declared.

"I was really upset and tweeted my feelings in the heat of the moment. I apologize unreservedly for my comment about the FA."

Cole was responding to the FA's publication on Friday of a 63-page report which questioned the truth of statements given by himself, Terry and Chelsea club secretary David Barnard about a Premier League game at QPR in October 2011 -- with the commission describing Terry's defense as "improbable, implausible and contrived."

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Stripped of the England captaincy in February by the FA in relation to an incident which has since seen him retire from international football, Terry has until 18 October to decide whether to appeal his four-game suspension and US$350,000 fine.

During a game which Chelsea lost 1-0, following the dismissal of two players from the current European champions, Terry has admitted to calling Ferdinand a "f****** black c***" in the closing moments.

The defense for his comments was based on the claim he was repeating words Ferdinand had said to him, with the Chelsea captain saying he was asking his fellow defender if he believed he had been on the end of racial abuse.

"We are driven to conclude not just that it is 'highly unlikely' that Mr. Ferdinand accused Mr. Terry on the pitch of calling him a 'black c***', but that he did not," the FA commission wrote.

"A much more plausible and likely explanation is that Mr. Terry was angry; angry at Mr. Ferdinand's taunting and provocation of him, angry at the way the match had gone, and angry at the way in which it seemed likely to end.

"The much more likely explanation for what he said is that all of this provoked him into saying 'f***ing black c***' as an insult, which is consistent with the fact that insults preceded and followed those words.

"The Commission is entitled to use its collective experience of life and people to judge demeanor.

"We have watched the film footage many times. In the critical phase, during which he uses the words 'f***ing black c***', Mr. Terry can be seen to be smiling initially, before his facial expression changes to disdainful and contemptuous.

"At no point is his demeanor and facial expression that of someone who is imploring, injured, or even quizzical in the face of an unfounded allegation by Mr. Ferdinand that he (Mr. Terry) had just been racially abusive towards him (Mr. Ferdinand)."

Terry was cleared in a magistrates' court in July of racially abusing Ferdinand but the FA found him guilty on 27 September, using the "balance of probabilities" as its standard of proof as opposed to the "beyond reasonable doubt" ruling used in a criminal trial.

The organization stressed that it does not believe "Terry to be a racist", citing a large body of testimonial evidence -- "including statements from black footballers" -- to say that he is not, but that it did find the controversy-plagued 31-year-old guilty of making a racist insult.

The FA also stated that it had "considerable doubt" over Cole's claims that he had heard Ferdinand use the word "black" when insulting Terry after the pair clashed late on.

The initial evidence given by Cole in the days after the game was amended in November 2011 when Chelsea secretary Barnard asked the FA to add the word "black" to the left back's original statement.

Nearly one year on, the FA panel found Barnard's evidence to be "materially defective."

It went on: "The Commission [has] considerable doubt as to whether the request to amend paragraph 4 of Mr. Cole's statement, to include the word 'black', was based on Mr. Cole's own personal recollections, or as a result of discussions that he had had with Mr. Barnard."

The document also found fault with Cole's claims since it believes abusive comments made by Ferdinand himself towards Terry -- which the QPR defender says were in relation to a perceived marital affair by the Chelsea man with a former team mate's ex-girlfriend -- were of a sexual rather than racial nature.

Some observers have queried the leniency of Terry's ban, half that given to Liverpool's Luis Suarez after he repeatedly racially abused Manchester United's Patrice Evra last year, and the FA report states that the Chelsea captain's punishment took light of the fact that his "racist insult was issued only once".

Even should Terry decide against appealing his ban and fine, Cole's outburst will means that an ongoing stain on the English game --- namely, the continuing focus on racism in the self-proclaimed "best league in the world" --- looks set to continue for some time.

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