Chelsea captain John Terry fabricated a story about making a racist comment to save his reputation after a video of the incident was posted on the Internet, a prosecutor said today.
Lawyer Duncan Penny said Terry concocted a story with teammate Ashley Cole in the locker room immediately after the video surfaced showing the England national team player calling Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand a “f---ing black c---” during a game last year.
“You knew you crossed the line and you regretted it,” Penny told Terry during cross examination on the third day of the trial in London. “For someone in your position it’s difficult to think of a more serious accusation to be made against you.”
Terry is fighting a charge of a racially-aggravated public order offense for using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behavior. The case shook British soccer minutes after Chelsea’s 1-0 defeat to QPR on Oct. 23, 2011. Fabio Capello quit as coach of England’s soccer team in February after the Football Association stripped Terry of the national team captaincy following an appeal by Chelsea to delay the trial until after the end of the Premier League soccer season.
Terry testified yesterday he used the words only to repeat something he thought Ferdinand shouted at him.
“When he’s accused me of that, I couldn’t control my emotions,” Terry said at the trial in London yesterday.
Cole, called to testify after Terry, denied Penny’s claim that he summoned Ferdinand to the Chelsea locker room to “smooth things over” because of the problems Terry would face.
Cole said he was conflicted when he made his statement about the incident to officials because of his friendship with Ferdinand, and his older brother Rio, who plays at Manchester United and was an England teammate of Terry’s.
“I had to do it because someone had to,” Cole said.
Terry said Rio Ferdinand didn’t answer when he tried to call him to discuss the matter.
Judge Howard Riddle will hear closing statements tomorrow. If convicted, Terry could be fined as much as 2,500 pounds ($3,900) and may face sanctions from English soccer’s governing body. The exchange followed the two players running into each other going for the ball and turned into an argument after Ferdinand felt Terry tried to cheat to win a penalty kick.
The men exchanged profanities and then Ferdinand said he gestured at Terry, cursed again, and referenced an affair Terry had with former teammate Wayne Bridge’s ex-girlfriend.
“You shagged your teammate’s missus,” Ferdinand recounted in testimony two days ago. He repeated the phrase at Terry while making a gesture indicating sex, he said.
Cole said he was about a car length away from Terry when he shouted back at Ferdinand but didn’t hear what the defender said. He said he saw “with my own eyes” Ferdinand use the word “black” or “Bridge’s” -- the name of his former teammate.
The defense has argued lip-reading can’t be relied upon. Cole said the case shouldn’t have made it to court at all.
“I think we shouldn’t be sitting here personally,” he said at today’s hearing.
Almost the entire Chelsea team and former Blues manager Jose Mourinho provided statements in support of Terry, stating they never heard him use racist language. Didier Drogba, the Ivory Coast national whose charity Terry said he’d donated to, wasn’t among the names read out in court as providing supporting statements.
To contact the reporters on this story: Tariq Panja in London at email@example.com; Lindsay Fortado in London at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at email@example.com