July 9, 2012

Chelsea captain John Terry's racism trial begins (VIDEO)

Scrutinised: Journalists crowd around the Chelsea player as he trudges in to court with this hands deep in his pockets
LONDON (AP) -The racism trial of John Terry began Monday with prosecutors claiming the Chelsea captain acknowledges using offensive language as a "sarcastic exclamation'' during an on-pitch confrontation.

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.

Terry's defense is that he was only repeating racially abusive words that he was accused of using against Ferdinand during an on-pitch confrontation that started over a disputed penalty claim.

The 31-year-old Terry faces a maximum fine of 2,500 pounds ($3,900) if he becomes the first top footballer in England to be 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 match at Loftus Road.

Ferdinand said he only became aware that Terry had apparently directed the racial slur at him when footage appeared on the YouTube website afterward.

Ferdinand said he would have reported the incident to officials if he had realized what had been said during the game.

"When someone brings your color into (abuse), it takes it to another level and it's very hurtful,'' Ferdinand said.
John Terry arrives at Westminster Magistrates court to stand trial for allegedly racially abusing Anton Ferdinand
Terry sat in the dock at Westminster Magistrates' Court behind a screen opposite Ferdinand, only occasionally looking up, spending most of the time making notes.

Prosecutors opened the trial by outlining Terry's case that his comments "were uttered by way of sarcastic exclamation or enquiry in relation to a perceived false accusation made by Mr. Ferdinand to the effect that he, the defendant, had used the term `black (expletive).''

Terry was unsmiling as he made his way to the dock for day one of the hearing
"The term `(expletive) black (expletive)' was uttered as an abusive insult demonstrating hostility based on Mr. Ferdinand's membership of a racial group,'' prosecutor Duncan Penny said.

Penny said that 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's Chelsea team-mate Ashley Cole was near the incident on the pitch but has not been called as a witness by the prosecution
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 out from interviews last year with the police and Football Association.

Terry's alleged comments came in response to taunts by the other player about his alleged affair with an ex-team-mate's girlfriend, Vanessa Perroncel, pictured, the prosecution said

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.''

"My use of these words were intended to make it plain I had not called him a black (expletive),'' Terry said in police interviews read out to the court.

"I felt he was accusing me of making a racist remark, which is simply not true.''

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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