When a video emerged in October 2011, appearing to show the England captain racially abusing another player, it seemed from the very start that Terry was guilty until proven innocent. Terry, who through his past discrepancies is loathed by the general public and the media alike, was condemned long before his trial had even begun.
John Terry has over recent years become a scapegoat for those who sneer at football, footballers and football fans. He is seen by many to be an archaic figure that belongs in British football’s dark past of violence, racism and sexism on the terraces. In 2002 Terry was accused of attacking a nightclub doorman with a bottle, in 2008 he was fined £60 for parking his Bentley in a disabled parking bay, and in 2010 he was stripped of the England captaincy following allegations he had an affair with the ex-partner of Wayne Bridge, his former Chelsea and England team-mate. Over the years he has been condemned by talk show that hosts and newspaper columnists who would never dream of watching the game. Terry is for them symbolic of the working class yobs that play football, as opposed to the heroes who competed in this summer’s Olympic Games. The vilification and persecution of John Terry is indicative of the snobbish class system that still dominates British society. During his lifetime the white working class has gone from salt of the earth, to scum of the earth, and even football has deserted its once proud status as a working class sport in the pursuit of wealth. When the accusations of racism emerged, this did not sit well with the well paid bureaucrats in the plush boardrooms of the FA. They sensed that the lucrative contracts football has earned from its conscious courting of the politically correct middle classes could be under threat. They acted decisively by banning Terry, an innocent man. In doing so they showed that they cared little for justice and far more for the money.
John Terry was found innocent in a court of law, yet the FA decided to ban him anyway. In court, lip readers found that the crucial video evidence condemning John Terry did not show in what context his words were used. With the prosecution unable to prove their allegations of racism, he was rightfully found not guilty. However, weeks later the FA decided to use its own internal system, which operates on the basis of the ‘balance of probability’ to punish John Terry for a crime that they could not prove, but one that they felt he ‘probably’ did. This sort of trial, where someone can be found guilty, despite any conclusive evidence against them, bears a greater resemblance to the communist witch hunts conducted in the USA by senator McCarthy than it does to any fair legal system. So, despite having no conclusive evidence against him, Terry, a man who has given so much to the FA through his England captaincy, was cast aside, as the FA desperately tries to maintain its own image in the eyes of the public.
Football has clearly changed considerably in this country, many will see the FA’s verdict as a victory for all the good work that has been done in attempting to eradicate racism from the sport. However, there remains the lingering feeling that Terry was thrown like a sacrificial lamb to the slaughter. There is a banner that hangs at Stamford Bridge whenever Terry plays for Chelsea that reads ‘Captain, Leader, Legend’; perhaps they should also add on to this the word ‘victim’.