John Terry and the FA: A Proportionate Response?

So after last week’s verdict, John Terry is guilty according to the FA.  But he’s not guilty according to Westminster magistrates court.  Yes but he is still guilty….. or, well, not guilty.  Ok, he’s guiltily not guilty.  Clear?  Good, glad that’s sorted.

Depending on who you listen to it’s either or both.  As far as the courts are concerned, he’s not guilty.  They determined that he might have been repeating a phrase as opposed to using one.  The context in which he used the language was important and the fact that there was doubt as to his intent.  But the FA don’t appear to care.  He used the language and that’s that.  The FA and their heavy-handed attempts to appease people without in depth thought or analysis.

I’m not sure I’m at all comfortable with this.  I don’t know whether John Terry said what he is supposed to have said or meant what he is supposed to have meant and evidently. Maybe he did really mean what he said.  Or maybe he really was trying to clear up what had been said.  Although it does seems odd to do that on the football pitch.  “Excuse me did you just suggest that I should have sexual intercourse with my mother?”. “Yes.”.  “Oh jolly good, I should hate to think you said something else dear boy.”  Can’t imagine that happens often…

The problem is that as far as this untrained judge is concerned, there doesn’t seem to be enough evidence to be convinced and therefore not guilty seems the only answer.  But either way, the FA have laid down the law and charged John Terry with misconduct.  He has been banned for four games and has been fined £220,000 (subject to any appeals).

But I don’t think that the punishment tallies.


Admittedly just over a week’s wages.  Not for me, for John Terry but still that seems quite a lot.  Especially when you consider the completely disproportionate nature of other race related fines around Europe.  For example; The Croatian FA were fined a relative pittance for fans making monkey noises and throwing bananas on to the pitch during a group game against Italy in Euro 2012.  Lazio were a similar pittance for their fans making monkey noises during a Europa League game at White Hart Lane.  The same applies to the RussiaN FA for their fans making monkey noises at Czech Republic full-back Theodor Gebre Selassie during Euro 2012.

I don’t know for sure what those fans intended but I don’t think there’s much doubt.  I don’t think we’ll ever know what John Terry was thinking but whilst there is ambiguity, it seems unfair to punish him so steeply in comparison to what I think are open-and-shut cases.

I’m glad that the punishment bar for racial abuse is set high in England. I just wish that in cases where it is incredibly obvious the punishment should be as severe throughout the rest of the world.  Unless the punishment is a deterrent rather than a risible slap on the wrist the problem will never go away.

You can follow the author of this article at @peterstickney.

8 thoughts on “John Terry and the FA: A Proportionate Response?”

  1. He admitted saying it. We’ll never know the context for sure.

    However as he has admitted saying the term the FA, I believe, have every right to punish him. John Terry has the right to appeal as well, not really sure how much of a reduction he’ll get in games, possible fine reduction though.

  2. He should probably consider himself lucky. The ban Suarez got was far more severe and was based on no evidence, just a claim from Evra. No court would have convicted Suarez.

    But the FA, with its 99.5% conviction rate, doesn’t require evidence. It created a precedence with the Suarez case and had no choice but to ban and fine Terry. But why the discrepancy in penalty?

  3. I have no idea if, what John Terry meant or was trying to say with his “racial” remarks but Peter – the burden of proof is always lower in a civil setting.

    As for the fines – outside of the Suarez example, you are comparing apples and oranges – the FA and UEFA. An individual player vs a group of “fans” a federation has less control over.

  4. Seriously… Unreasonable doubt needs 12 of 12 so 1 person disagreeing means he couldn’t be found guilty and that is what happened. The judge in closing said that Terry’s explanaition is highly unlikely to be true. But the judge can’t over-rule the verdict of a jury.

    The context IS clear and that is why the judge made his comments, it’s why black players are now considering not taking part in the kick it outcampaign.

    Making racist remarks or using racist language at a workplace in ANY country means you can be fired. Yes even in the USA if you use that language and someone fins it offensive be YOU can loose your job. Not be told to take off a few days without pay.

    And that is someone with 0 public profile or role model responsibilities as a captain of a cou try or a club.

    So, given those realities and Anton’s acknowledged rights that mean he has the roght to a work place without discrimination including not be subjected to abusive language based off of his skin color. The fa have every right to give out a different punishment than the law.

    Terry has admitted using the language. The FA now have to address the weak realities of their position for punishing language targeting skin color.

    3 days for a red card
    4 games for making racist remarks

    This is the problem it doesn’t sit well that the punishments are in the same numerical area, especially when you have and alleged zero tolerance policy. The zero drug policy is 10 games including zero access to training and the ground, complete denial of football for that period.

    So when you set that bar for doping, but racism and the kick it out campaign is your your biggest challenge, why the huge gulf? Can u expect players of minority to take you seriously when something as blatant as the terry case gets no where bpnear the punishment of doping but 1 game more that a regular red?

    Of course not.

    Terry’s explanantion is a joke. The judge thought it was a joke, 11 out of 12 jurors thought it was a joke, the fa have now treated the issue of racism in the game as a joke.

    Chelsea as a club are now treating it as a joke.

    I think the FA will actually challenge the panels verdict and increase he ban.

    If you want to kick it out then the punishment should be a harsh enough to take it out.

    It should be he same as the doping charge, the scale needs to be adjusted otherwise they are saying doping is worse than racism. Some would say it is some would say its not, I think everyone can agree that the scale isn’t right 4 games is a joke, and not a funny one.

    1. Do you actually believe there was a jury involved?? You know this case was just heard by a magistrate, right? You actually believe one juror out of 12 stopped the magistrate from finding him guilty? Do you recall the magistrate saying that Terry was a credible witness? You might try to pay a bit more attention before you explain things to rest of us.

  5. What John Barnes said about racism made more sense any of the attempts that have seen so far.

    What is the point of comparing racism issues with Lazio fans and The Croatian FA and so on… two different issues and any logical writer wouldn’t have brought them as arguments. They have no involvement with the English FA or incidents regarding the Premier League.

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