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Football: Terry 'angry, upset' at thought of racism claim

Chelsea defender John Terry arrives at Westminster Magistrates' Court in central London July 10, 2012. (REUTERS/Andrew Winning)

LONDON: Former England football captain John Terry took the witness stand Tuesday and told his trial that he was "very angry and upset" when he thought an opponent had accused him of making racist remarks.

The Chelsea skipper is accused of calling Queens Park Rangers player Anton Ferdinand a "fucking black cunt" during a match between Chelsea and QPR on October 23 last year.

Terry, standing trial at Westminster Magistrates Court in London, told the court he was sarcastically repeating words he thought Ferdinand had said to him.

The central defender, who denies committing a racially aggravated public order offence, told the court: "I thought he was accusing me of calling him a black cunt.

"I was very angry and I was upset. I replied, 'A black cunt? You fucking knobhead'."

Terry said the pair began trading insults when he did not return the ball to QPR.

The Chelsea captain then ran back to his position and turned round to face Ferdinand.

"He was doing a pumping action" and referring to Terry's alleged affair with the mother of a former team-mate's child, the married father of twins said.

Speaking quietly, Terry said he was taunted about the allegations "more or less every game" and had "heard it all before".

"It's part and parcel of the game; you just get on with the game, basically," he said, and try to "laugh it off".

Earlier Terry's lawyer George Carter-Stephenson asked for the case to be dismissed.

He said Ferdinand was an unreliable witness and lip-reading experts agreed it was impossible to clarify what was said at the key moment from the footage.

The case was "so weak and tenuous it does not warrant it going any further," he said.

However, Riddle ruled that there was a case to answer.

Earlier, the court was played a recording of an interview conducted a week after the incident between Terry and investigator Jennifer Kennedy from the Football Association (FA), the sport's governing body in England.

"I have been called a lot of things in my football career, and off the pitch, but being called a racist I am not prepared to take," the court heard Terry saying on the tape.

"That's why I came out and made my statement immediately.

"I am not having Anton thinking that about me or anyone else," he said.

Terry told the investigator he had only repeated back to Ferdinand what he believed the QPR defender had said to him.

He said he thought Ferdinand was accusing him of calling his opponent those words and was angry about it.

"I was hurt by it, taken aback and really surprised," Terry said. "It's something I took and didn't like it at all. I have never been accused of that before, inside or outside football. I took it to heart."

He added: "I felt strongly about it and wanted to clear it up before I left the stadium or he got the chance to leave the stadium."

He told Kennedy he spoke to Ferdinand after the match, accompanied by his Chelsea team-mate Ashley Cole.

Terry asked whether Ferdinand was accusing him of racial abuse "and he said, 'No, not at all'."

Terry then said, "Good," adding that he did not want Ferdinand thinking he had racially abused him.

Terry said he was aware of how a video of the incident looked to those who did not know the context and acknowledged that the footage "did not look good."

But he added: "I know I have nothing to hide."

If it was the case, a player would not be "projecting it" in front of a packed stadium and dozens of television cameras, he said, adding: "I could have easily had my hand over my mouth or whispered in his ear."

It emerged in court that the only person who initially complained to police about Terry was an off-duty police officer.

If found guilty, Terry could be fined up to $3,850, 3,150 euros, although the damage to the defender's lucrative commercial deals would likely be far greater.

 

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