The FA have released the written reason behind the John Terry verdict, the full text of which can be found on The FA’s website. It is clear that they did not believe his defence that he was simply repeating what had been said by Anton Ferdinand.
Terry now has two weeks to appeal against his four game suspension and £220,000 fine for misconduct. However, I hope that he does not appeal, accepts the punishment and moves on.
The easy comparison to make to this situation is to the one faced by Liverpool’s Luis Suarez last season, when the Uruguay international received an eight game ban for using racially offensive terms towards Patrice Evra. I felt massively uncomfortable with the actions of Liverpool as a club, and those Liverpool fans who stood so closely behind Suarez that they refused to believe that he could have done such a thing. I feel an even higher level of discomfort with this situation, since it is happening to the captain of my club.
Given that this has taken place at the club where I am a season ticket holder – and travelled to Munich for the Champions League Final last season – it is very easy to get caught up in the “he’s not a racist, he just said something racist” that I have heard Liverpool fans use as a defence for Suarez (along with the ever popular “but negro isn’t an offensive term in Uruguay”). From what I could hear coming from the seats around me in the away end at the Emirates, there was plenty of staunch Terry defenders: “One England captain, f**k the FA” being a particularly popular chant. There are a lot of Chelsea fans for whom Terry is still the “Captain, Leader, Legend” and support him accordingly by blaming Anton and Rio Ferdinand (who was certainly foolish with his “choc ice” comment, but hardly can be blamed for being related to someone), The FA, and anyone else except for the man in the number 26 shirt.
But I think that the FA were correct to bring disciplinary proceedings against Terry, even after he was cleared in court, since the two cover different legal areas. While the leniency of the suspension in comparison to Suarez does not send a particularly good message, that they felt fit to convene the panel is a good way to show that while you may not have committed a criminal offence, it was still an offense within the rules of the game.
I am uncomfortable cheering for Terry, as much as I admire him purely as a player I am very uncomfortable with him as a person given his past indiscretions and the appearance that he does not seem to learn from them. I have in the past said that if you use sexist language then it is right to call be called a sexist, and used a similar argument about Suarez. It would be immensely hypocritical of me and fellow Chelsea fans to not do the same with Terry. In both cases, ignorance is not a defence, and nor is using schoolyard ‘but he said it first’ logic.
I feel that while Chelsea dealt with the initial accusations better than Liverpool (I am so glad they didn’t bring out “Support John Terry” t-shirts in the way that Liverpool did), I believe that there is now a responsibility on the club to take actions that will show that no one is above reproach when it comes to their behaviour on or off the pitch, especially the club captain. Chelsea sacked Adrian Mutu for taking cocaine, as it was denigrating to both himself and the football club, and I think that the board and Mr Abramovich need to consider what is best for the club and team in the future, and whether or not that future should contain John Terry wearing either the captain’s armband or the club shirt.