John Terry is ready to take on the Football Association after being charged with using abusive and threatening behaviour towards Anton Ferdinand.
The Chelsea defender is facing a potentially lengthy ban if found guilty, two weeks after he was cleared by Westminster Magistrates’ Court of a racially aggravated public order offence. Terry has denied the charge and will request a personal hearing but the FA’s decision to press charges could ensure he misses the start of the Premier League season.
Terry, 31, is alleged to have used “abusive and/or insulting words and/or behaviour” towards Ferdinand, the Queens Park Rangers defender, in the Premier League game at Loftus Road last October but he was acquitted after a five-day trial as it had not been proven beyond reasonable doubt that the words had been an insult.
But the FA only has to prove its case “on the balance of probabilities”, raising the prospect of Terry being hit with a ban that could rule him out until September. Under the same disciplinary rules last season Liverpool’s Luis Suarez was fined £40,000 and banned for eight games for racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra.
The FA suspended their own investigation into the matter when Terry was prosecuted but issued a statement last night, after months of investigations, less than three hours before the Olympics opening ceremony.
The statement read: “After seeking advice from an external Independent QC, and having considered the evidence and Magistrates’ Court decision in the John Terry case, The FA has today charged the Chelsea player following an alleged incident that occurred during the Queens Park Rangers versus Chelsea fixture at Loftus Road on 23 October 2011.
“It is alleged that Terry used abusive and/or insulting words and/or behaviour towards Queens Park Rangers’ Anton Ferdinand, contrary to FA rules. It is further alleged that this included a reference to the ethnic origin and/or colour and/or race of Anton Ferdinand.
“This charge is the result of The FA’s long-standing enquiries into this matter, which were placed on hold pending the outcome of the criminal trial, and relates to rules governing football only. During this period John Terry remains available to play for England.”
Terry was not expected to play any part in England’s friendly against Italy in Berne next month, with manager Roy Hodgson expected to field a team consisting primarily of youngsters, but this latest episode is certain to cast doubt over his international future.
The Chelsea captain is due to face AC Milan today (Saturday) in a pre-season friendly and had admitted only two days before that he was relieved to be concentrating on football, rather than the courtroom. But the FA’s decision to charge him could have serious repercussions, with only two cases from 473 heard by an Independent Commission last year resulting in not guilty verdicts.
A Chelsea statement read: “John Terry has denied an FA charge announced today and will be requesting the opportunity for a personal hearing.”
Meanwhile Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas has taken a swipe at his former Chelsea players, by suggesting that the team spirit of his new side is better than the one at Stamford Bridge.
Villas-Boas, 34, was dismissed by Chelsea last season amid suggestions that he had lost the dressing room. His time at Stamford Bridge was marked by disputes with the club’s senior players who were unconvinced by his methods. He said: “I think the warmth of this group is excellent to see. It is two different groups reacting differently. We have seen the spirit of this group and it is different from what I had last year.
“From my perspective I have been adapting to them and they are enjoying what they are doing.”
Villas-Boas also spoke out against Sepp Blatter following the Fifa president’s remarks which suggested Gareth Bale could face a club ban after the winger pulled out of the Great Britain Olympics squad with an injury only to then take part in Tottenham’s pre-season tour.
Villas-Boas said Blatter spoke without knowing the full facts. He said: “He [Blatter] has decided to speak, maybe not knowing the full extent of the situation. They are unfortunate comments.”