Eleven months after his on-field clash with Anton Ferdinand, and having escaped justice in July, John Terry was finally found guilty of racist abuse today.
Terry, the Chelsea defender, has been banned for four games and fined £220,000. Following his acquittal at Westminster Magistrates Court two months ago, he was charged by the Football Association with “using abusive and/or insulting words and/or behaviour towards Ferdinand and which included a reference to colour and/or race” in the Chelsea-QPR match at Loftus Road in October.
As the BBC’s Dan Roan notes, though the right verdict has undoubtedly, belatedly been reached, questions will be asked of why it took so long for the FA to act, compared with the Suarez race case:
“One of the first questions many people will ask is why the Terry ban is so much less than that handed to Luis Suarez of Liverpool last year. We await the written judgement, which will no doubt explain the difference.
“This is a significant day – the end of an 11-month saga, a case that was dragged through the courts. The language, insults and abuse laid bare have made this a really uncomfortable episode for the sport.
“Terry must now live with that stigma, the ignominy of a ban. It’s not a career-ending ban, but it will be interesting to see what Chelsea do. Will they suspend him, drop him or back him? The club has a zero-tolerance policy towards racism.”
As Left Foot Forward has long reported, racism, though we’d like to think of oursleves as much more enlightened and progressive than other footballing nations, hasn’t disappeared. It may be less prominent, obvious and violent than elsewhere, but it’s still there, off the pitch, in the stands amongst some supporters, and now, we’ve learned over the past year, on the pitch as well.
Clarke Carlisle’s recent BBC documentary, “Is Football Racist?”, tackled the issue head on – with some worrying findings.
Below are clips some of the main interviews Carlisle conducted for the docu, starting with Jermaine Jenas:
And finally, most heartbreaking of all, Clarke’s father, whose own football career was killed by prejudice:
Today such blatant, pernicious racism has been all but banished from the national game, but racism still exists, in sport and in society. An England captain, an England football captain, has been found guilty of racist abuse, in 2012 – how did it ever come to this?