Chelsea captain John Terry told a court yesterday that he isn’t a racist and has become a victim after being accused of racially abusing a rival Premier League soccer player.
Terry, 31, took the stand to explain why he called Queen’s Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand a ”f---ing black c---” during a game last year. He testified 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 criminal trial in London.
The case shook English soccer from the moment footage of the alleged abuse first surfaced 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 soccer season.
Prosecutor Duncan Penny took Terry through video footage of the game at QPR’s Loftus Road. In one clip, Terry came together with opposition goalkeeper Paddy Kenny and was penalized even though replays showed there was no contact.
Terry made a gesture to mock the goalie’s weight. Penny said that showed the frame of mind Terry was in when he clashed with Ferdinand six minutes before the end of play.
“You’re not a racist but you used racial language that day because you snapped,” he said.
Terry, wearing a black suit and black tie, said he’d been called a lot of things in his career but he could never accept being called a racist.
Terry is accused of a racially-aggravated public order offense for using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behavior. If convicted, Terry could be fined as much as 2,500 pounds and may face sanctions from English soccer’s governing body.
The exchange followed the two players barging into each other going for the ball, and turned into an argument after Ferdinand felt Terry had tried to cheat to win a penalty.
The men exchanged profanities and then Ferdinand said he gestured at Terry, cursed again, and referenced an affair Terry had with a former teammate’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.
Terry denied the suggestion that he reacted to the reference to the affair. He said he’s faced abuse on a “weekly” basis from rival fans and players since a judge in 2010 lifted an injunction against reporting details of the affair.
“It’s two years on, I’ve heard that a hundred times, a million times,” Terry said. “If I was gonna snap I would’ve snapped long before.”