Footballer John Terry has been declared Not Guilty following one of the most stupid court cases of recent years.
He had been charged with racial abuse, following an altercation with fellow player, Anton Ferdinand, during a match last October. Terry claimed he was provoked into responding to a comment, made by Ferdinand, about his past extra marital relationship with another player’s girlfriend.
The words Terry used in response would indeed be considered offensive, within a normal everyday conversation, but in sport there are nearly always heated exchanges between players during competitive matches. That is no excuse, but we must remember, these are men with inflated egos, who are paid excessive fortunes for playing a game with a small ball.
Terry was alleged to have called Ferdinand a ‘black c**t’ and a video replay (without sound) of the incident was shown to the court as part of the prosecution case. He could just as easily have been saying ‘blackcurrant’ such was the strength of the evidence.
Ferdinand, of course, is a black player, so the Crown Prosecution Service deemed the allegation to be worthy of a racial abuse charge. If Ferdinand had been white, I doubt anyone would ever have imagined the possibility of a court hearing and its subsequent media attention.
Almost eight months has passed since the incident was alleged to have taken place, during which, expensive lawyers have racked up many hours preparing their cases and a large amount of public funding has been wasted on an unsuccessful verdict. The five days of court time could have made a useful dent in the more serious backlog of cases waiting to be processed by the legal system.
In writing the above, I am in no way condoning racial abuse; I find it to be intolerable and offensive. However, I am advocating the use of common sense within the legal system.
Even if Terry had been found guilty, the maximum sentence he could have received would have been a fine of £2,500. He probably carries more than that amount in his everyday small change.
This trial was about making a politically correct example of someone who is able to command a large press following.
It should have been dealt with internally, by the governing body of the sport or by their own clubs. It should not have been allowed to cost the taxpayer funds we are constantly reminded we don’t have.
As for Terry and Ferdinand? They should both grow up!