LONDON — The racism trial of John Terry began Monday with prosecutors claiming the Chelsea captain acknowledges using offensive language as a “sarcastic exclamation.”
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 match 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.
Ferdinand told Westminster Magistrates’ Court that his initial intention was not to ensure Terry faced a criminal prosecution, saying he thought it was a matter for England’s Football Association. But he later changed his mind and went to the police, a decision he says wasn’t influenced by his management team.
“I made up my own mind, I wanted to do it,” said Ferdinand, the brother of Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand.
Terry sat in the dock behind a screen opposite Ferdinand, occasionally looking up and spending most of the time making notes.