Oct 8 2012

Pot, kettle, black c***

Terry, Cole and a Bunch of Twats

By Fred Varcoe

Should John Terry be fired by Chelsea, as demanded by The Guardian?
Is John Terry guilty? Is Ashley Cole a liar? It’s seems to be a popular thing to say. It seems to be a “right-on” thing to say. It seems to be the thing that writers in the U.K. want to say over and over again. U.K. journos love bandwagons; they make journos popular without the need to resort to actual thinking. Or, indeed, facts.
So what’s happened? An “independent” panel appointed by the F.A. has found Terry guilty of making a racist statement, while at the same time saying he’s not a racist.
The same panel has effectively called Ashley Cole a liar for “amending” (“evolving”?) his evidence.
An English court found Terry not guilty. The court requires evidence to prove the case. The F.A.’s inquiry does not require evidence that proves a case. The independent panel only has to think that Terry might have done what he was accused of to find him guilty of the offence. And that’s what they did.

Variations on a cunt

The F.A. say Terry called Anton Ferdinand a “fucking black cunt … fucking knobhead,” while Terry maintains that he said something along the lines of “Did you accuse me of calling you a ‘fucking black cunt’ … fucking knobhead.”
Apparently Ferdinand had insulted Terry in relation to Terry’s shagging of Wayne Bridge’s wife. The F.A. hasn’t taken any action against Ferdinand on this. Apparently this kind of emotional provocation is OK with them.
And apparently it would have been OK if Terry had just said “fucking cunt” or “fucking human cunt” or just “cunt.” And it didn’t matter that Ferdinand didn’t hear the insult (apparently they were 19 meters apart at a very noisy ground).
The only thing that matters, apparently, is that three “independent” people think Terry used “black” as an insult. The ruling of the British court apparently doesn’t matter; the British justice system is obviously inferior to the F.A.’s and the F.A.’s panel can evaluate evidence better than an English court. And the F.A.’s panel doesn’t need to prove anything. Yes, that’s the kind of justice we journalists need. It makes a much better story.
Anton Ferdinand accusing Terry of shagging his teammate’s wife is not a story. Because the F.A. approve of that (OK, don’t disapprove of it). Terry reacting on the spur of the moment under provocation should result in his career being destroyed, according to the Guardian. One assumes that the Guardian thinks that everyone who reacts in an insulting verbal manner when provoked should be sacked, even if there is no evidence that proves the verbal insult was actually a verbal insult.

Racism but not a racist

Nobody seems to think that Terry is a racist, but in the heat of intense competition and under severe provocation he may have used a race-based slur against his provoker. If he was guilty, it was most likely an emotional outburst with racial overtones rather than a racial outburst (which would by logical extension be aimed at all black people, including Terry’s teammate and witness Ashley Cole). If this can be proved he should be punished on this basis, but who among us hasn’t said hurtful words in anger at someone they like/love/respect/admire?
Now Cole is being dragged across the, er, coals because he was offended by the F.A. panel insinuating he was a liar. He called the F.A. a “bunch of twats.” He’s been punished for that (even though it hasn’t been disproved and a three-man independent panel I convened believe it to be true). Specifically, he has been accused of enhancing his evidence to support Terry. Again, there’s no proof (yet).
So, Terry has been punished for something that may have occurred but hasn’t been proved. Cole has been punished for saying something that is true (and, let’s face it, has been proved a thousand times) and may be punished again for something that may or may not have cleared Terry but which hasn’t been proven.
For Terry, three judgments can be made here:

  1. Terry used the phrase because he’s a racist;
  2. Terry used the phrase on the spur of the moment because Ferdinand insulted him;
  3. Terry used the phrase as he claims, i.e., that he wanted to check what Ferdinand thought he said.

For the F.A.:
If it’s 1, then the F.A. should throw the book at him. But not even the F.A.’s Spanish Inquisition believe it’s 1.
If it’s 2, as captain of Chelsea and as a supposed “role model,” perhaps the punishment fits the crime (although when people cripple footballers with fouls, it’s the same punishment and that doesn’t fit the crime).
If it’s 3, it’s not really an issue.

For Terry:
If it’s 1, he would be better off taking the current punishment (a four-game ban) and getting on with his life and career and continuing to hide his racism;
If it’s 2, then Terry should man-up and say he used the phrase under extreme provocation and is sorry to all concerned and accept the punishment;
If it’s 3, he has to fight because then the F.A. is in the wrong. Perhaps Terry should have the right to ask that the F.A. panel be examined for bringing about a wrongful judgment and punishing him on unproven grounds, so bringing the game into disrepute.

There are two more disturbing aspects to this case.
First, the F.A. has a double-jeopardy clause in its statutes that basically says the F.A. should follow the rulings of the courts. Obviously they haven’t done that in this case. They have been very keen to find Terry guilty (apparently the conviction rate for the F.A. is the same as that of most police states), so they’ve ignored their own rules.
Secondly, Rio Ferdinand, Anton’s brother, referred to Cole as a “choc ice,” i.e., black on the outside, white on the inside. Surely this is a far more serious case of racism than that of Terry’s. It would be like me calling the F.A. or Guardian readers “nigger lovers” for their actions. Yet Rio Ferdinand was only fined £45,000 and not banned.
Should this incident be as big as it’s been blown up to be? It merits attention in the media, but it also deserves some perspective. I hope Terry comes out with a statement that clarifies everything. NO ONE has come out of this looking good and perhaps all the parties should reflect on that.

“We’re whiter than white.”


I found this on the web and I post it without comment:

10 fatal flaws in the FA disciplinary panel’s ruling on John Terry.

It runs to 63 pages, and is the FA’s justification of its findings. But the panel’s written ruling is a flawed document containing errors and inconsistencies.
1. It states as fact Terry and Ashley Cole met Anton Ferdinand “approximately one hour after the match ended.” Documentary evidence in court proved the team had left by then.
2. There is reference to “Mr Ferdinand’s wife.” He is unmarried.
3. There is no adequate explanation of why Terry was charged under FA rules while Ferdinand, who admitted having breached them, wasn’t.
4. The FA’s burden of proof required reference to the seriousness of the accusations. It is perverse a matter deemed by the criminal justice system to require a “beyond reasonable doubt” yardstick, be judged upon using anything but that.
5. In reasoning on the FA’s rule 6.18 (on the primacy of findings in previous tribunals), the panel goes on a meandering run across the face of the defence, attempting to pick-out the one thread-needle route by which they might reach their intended target. This is not only bad law, it is also an irrational conclusion setting a bizarre precedent.
6. The panel takes the view that because Ferdinand wasn’t cross-examined during the FA hearing, all evidence was accepted unchallenged, a position ignoring cross-examination of Ferdinand in court.
7. The panel emphasises Terry’s use of profanities to infer malice. These are the same words three professional footballers told the criminal court were a part of the general punctuation of speech within Premier League matches.
8. The panel’s belief an innocent Terry would confront Ferdinand at full time, rather than applaud his own fans, misapprehends the character he has displayed over the last 14 years.
9. A section headed “the Barcelona evidence” compares Terry’s initial reported denial of kneeing Alexis Sanchez in Camp Nou, with his latter admission. The panel takes certain inferences from this, despite having been unable to prove the existence of the initial denial. Indeed, having listened back to interviews from that night, I cannot find any evidence of an initial denial.
10. The panel sets stall by the “evolution” of Cole’s evidence. It is normal for witness statements in criminal proceedings to evolve in this way. Changes are to be expected given Cole’s evidence was based on notes of the FA’s investigating team, and not a tape recording.

Taken together these flaws demonstrate that the FA panel was both slapdash and irrational in its approach to this case.