John Terry’s racism trial begins

The England defender came face to face in court with Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand, whom he is accused of racially abusing during a Premier League match in October. The 31-year-old Terry faces a maximum fine of $3,900 if he becomes the first top soccer player in England convicted of racial abuse during a game.

Ferdinand, who is black, gave evidence that he had not initially heard Terry use racist language during the game at Loftus Road. Ferdinand said he became aware of the apparent racial slur from YouTube footage. Ferdinand said he would have reported the remarks to game officials if he realized what had been said.

“When someone brings your color into (abuse), it takes it to another level and it’s very hurtful,” Ferdinand said.

Terry sat in the dock at Westminster Magistrates’ Court behind a screen opposite Ferdinand, occasionally looking up and spending most of the time making notes.

Prosecutors opened the trial by saying Terry’s comments were “uttered by way of sarcastic exclamation or inquiry in relation to a perceived false accusation made by Mr. Ferdinand” to the effect that the defendant had used a racial expletive.

Prosecutor Duncan Penny said Terry’s remarks were made in response to “goading by Mr. Ferdinand on the issue of his extra-marital affair, rather than by way of exaggerated and instant querying of a perceived false allegation.”

Terry was stripped of the England captaincy before the 2010 World Cup following allegations he had an affair with teammate Wayne Bridge’s former girlfriend.

Terry regained the captaincy but lost it again in February with this trial pending ahead of the European Championship, at which he played in all four of England’s games last month.

Two weeks after playing in the quarterfinal loss to Italy, the court only heard from Terry via statements read from interviews last year with the police and Football Association.

Terry claimed Ferdinand had shouted a “number of abusive comments” toward him and made “at least one obscene gesture with his hand, a pumping action clearly directed at me and no other Chelsea player.”

“I felt he was accusing me of making a racist remark, which is simply not true,” Terry said in police interviews read out to the court.

Terry’s defense questioned Ferdinand on why he was “so angry” in the match after the Chelsea player tried to win a penalty. Ferdinand said that made him angry because “I’m a winner” but added he is usually a “calm and collected player.”

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