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Is Chelsea’s John Terry A Teflon-Coated Odious Chancer Or The Misunderstood Hero?

by | 26th, October 2011

IS John Terry, the hard-to-like Chelsea and England captain, a racist?

Footage shows Terry mouthing the words “black c**t” and “fu*king knobhead during his side’s defeat to QPR.

The allegation is that he directed the words towards Anton Ferdinand, the QPR defender who is of mixed-race.

The video does not show all of Terry’s sentence. The opening part is obscured by Ashley Cole’s head. Terry says his sentence began with the words: “Oi! I never said…”

Terry says he uttered the words without racist intent. Says Terry:

“I thought Anton was accusing me of using a racist slur against him. I responded aggressively, saying that I never used that term.

The story makes the front page of the Sun.

“COPS IN TERRY RACIST PROBE”

The Mirror:

“Give Me The Truth”

The back of the Mirror yells”

“TERRY IN FIGHT FOR ENGLAND FUTURE”

The paper opines:

“Defender to lose captaincy if guilty in race row”

No. If Terry is guilty he will lose everything. His career will be over. And that would be right. Ron Atkinson would attest to that. Atkinson was the ITV pundit, a former Manchester Untied manager, who told viewers that Marcell Desailly, the Frenchman who was himself once captain of Chelsea was a “lazy nigger”. Atkinson’s career was over.

The Sun reports:

ANTON FERDINAND will tell the FA’s probe into the Loftus Road race row that he does not agree with John Terry’s account of what happened. The FA yesterday agreed to launch an investigation into the bust-up, after Ferdinand gave his version of events to QPR boss Neil Warnock and FA officials. Ferdinand was said to be ‘stunned’ when he studied England captain Terry’s account of the controversy.

The experts take a view:

Andre Villas-Boas, Chelsea manger:

“How can such a small incident based on speculation arrive to a situation of such proportions with the England captain? It surprises me… He has put out his statement and we fully back John. John is a player who represents this country to the highest level internationally. He is a player of great responsibilities. He said to me the incident was a big misunderstanding. That’s why he put his statement out straight away. I find it strange when people don’t trust the words of a representative from your country.”

Matthew Syed, The Times:

John Terry is the most unfortunate man in Britain. How else to make sense of the litany of misunderstandings that have afflicted the Chelsea captain and which have served cruelly to undermine his reputation?
The most recent incident involves video footage that appears to show Terry racially abusing an opponent at the weekend. Terry admits to using racist language (and, to judge from the video, using it in an aggressive way), but he claims that he was stating the words to deny having said them an earlier spat. To put it another way, he has been misconstrued.

It is not the first time, poor chap. In December 2009 he was filmed showing a group of businessmen (actually undercover reporters) around the Chelsea training ground in return for £10,000 in used £50 notes. At the time, many inferred that he was seeking to enrich himself in direct contravention of his club’s rules. But this was another misapprehension. According to Terry, £8,000 of the cash was destined for charity.

Earlier that year Terry had been the victim of another misunderstanding. The story centred on an e-mail sent out by a company called Riviera Entertainment, which read: “John Terry is available to create effective brand awareness and endorse products and services globally.” And later: “John Terry is: British sporting hero; England’s football captain; World Cup 2018 ambassador; Football icon; Dad of the year 2008; Voted as one of the World’s most influencial [sic] people.” According to Riviera, it was acting on the explicit instructions of Terry and his advisers, but Terry was having none of it. This was another case of misunderstanding. “An e-mail inviting commercial endorsements for me has been published,” he said. “This e-mail was sent without my authority or knowledge and was not approved by me (or those advising me). I have nothing further to say on the matter.”

In February 2010 (anyone else getting a sense of déjà vu?) Terry was accused of exploiting the England captaincy for commercial gain. According to reports, his box at Wembley (which he was allowed to hire at thousands of pounds below the market price as a perk of the England captaincy) was being touted out for £4,000 in cash. This was, again, a case of crossed wires. Terry patiently explained that he had no knowledge of the proposed transaction and that he was an innocent victim of circumstances beyond his control…

Indeed, looking at Terry’s career in the round, it is difficult to find a single episode where he has been in the wrong. What looks like dodgy behaviour is merely a case of not knowing all the facts, or misinterpreting his motives, or failing to see the bigger picture…

Either way, what seems clear is that there are really only two possible views to have of Terry. One is that he is the most misunderstood man in Britain, someone who has endured an astonishing run of bad luck and misinterpretation. The other is that he is an odious and reprehensible chancer who should never have been appointed (or reappointed) to the England captaincy. Make your own minds up.

But racism is something else. You should not use a man’s past ‘misunderstandings to condemn him for what he is now accused of. Syed may not admire Terry, but he should stick to the facts of this case. Profiteering and cheating are ugly – but racism is abhorrent. Terry, like all footballers, should be judged on their behaviour and action on the pitch. This is why the charge of racism during a match is so potentially damaging.

Rory Smith, Independent:

There is an element of Teflon about John Terry. His misdemeanours off the pitch, from the reported disrespect for the victims of 9/11, through the allegations of financial impropriety to the allegations of marital infidelity, would have claimed the personal and professional lives of lesser men. With Terry, nothing has ever quite stuck.

Only they have stuck. The papers quote them whenever Terry is in trouble.

Judging by his comments yesterday, his Chelsea manager, Andre Villas-Boas, would attribute that to the fact that Terry remains a natural leader for his country, a fine “representative” for the nation, if not a paragon of its virtues. His heart on his sleeve, Terry’s lionhearted courage and evident patriotic pride allow him to rehabilitate and redeem himself every time…

After all, this is an offence which comes during the three weeks of the “One Game, One Community” campaign run by the Kick It Out campaign, a group dedicated to ridding football of racism. If the timing seems unfortunate, privately they might even acknowledge that it has helped highlight their cause. Just two weeks after Manchester United’s Patrice Evra accused Liverpool’s Luis Suarez of racially abusing him a dozen times during the two sides’ fixture at Anfield, the England captain stands accused. This is a battle often thought won. There is clearly still a war to be fought.

“Incidents of racial abuse between fellow professionals are very rare,” says Brendon Batson, the man behind the Show Racism the Red Card campaign and a man who has done more than most to rid the game of racial abuse. “There is a level of professional respect that ensures that. The focus of most campaigns has always been on fans, rather than players.”

The experience of Jason Roberts suggests, though, that such an approach may have been flawed. “Is it something that used to happen all the time? Absolutely,” the Blackburn striker said. “In my 14-year career, I’ve had it numerous times. More times than I can count. It has certainly slowed down recently but the battle isn’t won. People still need educating.”

Matt Lawton, Daily Mail

If that is true, if Ferdinand never even heard Terry use the phrase ‘black ****’, it could be interpreted as something that is in Terry’s favour.

But it could also expose a flaw in the explanation Terry gave on Sunday. If Ferdinand tells the FA he never heard Terry use any such language then it doesn’t quite add up that he would have accused the Chelsea defender of having done so.

Ferdinand only really became aware Terry might have a case to answer when he was alerted to the postings on the internet in the hours that followed the game. The two men had argued on the field, and it is thought Terry reacted angrily to a  provocative remark Ferdinand made about his private life. Not that it would excuse Terry if the response was a racial slur.

And:

England sets an example that few countries can match and, after all the progress since the Seventies and Eighties, could not contemplate someone leading out the national team who has been found guilty of racial abuse.

For Terry, these allegations are so much more serious than the salacious headlines and errors of judgment that forced Fabio Capello to strip him of the England captaincy.

He would probably consider it more serious than the criminal charges that could have led to his imprisonment had he not been acquitted. If found guilty, he would find himself a pariah of the English game.

Gary O’Shea, The Sun:

Terry, 30, who denies all wrongdoing, could find himself before a criminal court on racism charges, jeopardising his England captaincy. Sources say he roared “blind” at his opponent, rather than “black” — but that he was misheard.

Oliver Kay, The Times:

Fair-mindedness is called for. Already this issue, like that surrounding Evra and Suárez, is being clouded by club loyalties. Liverpool supporters back Suárez unequivocally, United fans likewise Evra, and Chelsea loyalists are adamant that Terry, their captain, is being smeared. And of course all are utterly convinced that the FA — and the media for that matter — are pre-conditioned to treat their player unfairly, all of which is a nonsense.

Terry, it seems, will not lose sleep over any of this. He maintains that he is innocent and is even prepared to initiate his own disciplinary hearing to ensure that his version of events is heard. Certainly, having issued a statement on Sunday night, given an interview to a newspaper on Monday and issued a further statement last night, he is very clearly on the front foot.

But the court of public opinion, not least on the internet, has a habit of making its own mind up and drawing the conclusions that it wants to reach, as Arsenal’s supporters are likely to make clear to Terry at Stamford Bridge on Saturday lunchtime.

Darren Lewis., Daily Mirror:

If John Terry is no longer the captain, and it goes back to Rio, does it split the England dressing room? Does it have a ripple affect going into 2012?” Lewis said on Fox Sports FC on Tuesday night.

“There are all sorts of ramifications.

“The FA, it’s a real headache for them.

“The best thing for them would be if Anton Ferdinand says I just want to draw a line under it, we won, I don’t want to make any more of it. But they … are sweating.

Paul Hayward, The Guardian

John Terrywas not exonerated. Nor was he accused. All football knew for sure after a tense day of trying to untangle events at Loftus Road on Sunday was that two of the Premier League’s most famous names are under a toxic cloud that has shifted attention away from racism in football grounds to the possibility of it on the pitch.

Liverpool’s Luis Suárez has been accused by Patrice Evra of Manchester United of calling him a “nigger” several times in last week’s north-west derby at Anfield: an allegation the Football Association is already investigating. The Terry-Anton Ferdinand case is another type. Ferdinand was offered the chance to agree with Terry’s account of their verbal clash at the weekend and chose not to, neither accusing the England captain of racism nor supporting Chelsea’s argument that it was all a “misunderstanding” and is now water under the (Stamford) Bridge.

By passing the case on to the FA, Queens Park Rangers kept this potentially incendiary incident very much alive. The impetus comes from them, not Ferdinand, who was claimed by some close to the case to have been oblivious to Terry’s alleged remarks until the Chelsea captain approached him to discuss it in the tunnel after the match.

The suggestion here is that Ferdinand’s concern developed only after he heard about it on the radio and saw the fuss on social media sites.

Anomalies jump out from both sides. Terry’s defence is that he was telling Ferdinand he had not used a racist term against him. But if Ferdinand had not made that allegation in the first place (and only learned of it after the match), how could Terry have been responding to a charge that Ferdinand could not have verbalised?

Only one thing is certain – and it is a good thing: racism is not acceptable.

 

 



Posted: 26th, October 2011 | In: Key Posts, Sports Comments (4) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink