Original article published 19/10/2012 in 'The Times'.
John Terry will captain Chelsea in their Champions League match away to Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday, just five days after finally offering a qualified apology for racially abusing Anton Ferdinand.
Chelsea welcomed Terry’s decision yesterday not to appeal against his four-match ban, but are standing by their captain and refusing to reveal details of the “further disciplinary action” they have taken against him, understood to have been a fine of £330,000.
Terry has yet to offer a personal apology to Ferdinand and in his statement yesterday continued to express “disappointment” at being found guilty by an FA Independent Regulatory Commission. But it is Chelsea’s handling of an issue they have had 12 months to address that is now under the spotlight.
Authoritative bodies, including the Kick It Out campaign and the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), were critical of the lack of transparency and perceived leniency in the punishment and Roberto Di Matteo, the manager, will come under pressure to justify the club’s actions at his press conference this afternoon.
Chelsea sources insisted last night that Terry’s punishment is appropriate, pointing out that he was cleared of racist abuse in Westminster Magistrates Court, but they are likely to face further questions about a perceived contradiction in club policy. Chelsea issue life bans from Stamford Bridge to fans found guilty of racist abuse, but Terry has escaped without an additional suspension and remains captain.
Jason Roberts, the Reading striker, expressed disgust yesterday at Chelsea’s stance and revealed he will not wear a Kick It Out T-shirt during the campaign group’s annual week of action, which ironically started yesterday.
“The four-match ban was, for me, not a heavy enough sanction for what happened,” Roberts said. “I’m not happy. Certainly they should have given him a longer ban. The sanction is nowhere near harsh enough.
“I find it hard to wear a T-shirt after what has happened in the last year. I won’t wear one. I’m totally committed to kicking racism out of football, but when there’s a movement I feel represents the issue in the way that speaks for me and my colleagues then I will happily support it.”
Lord Ouseley, the Kick It Out chairman, expressed sympathy with Roberts’s views and called on Terry to make a personal apology to Ferdinand, the Queens Park Rangers defender.
“Jason has not been slow in coming forward about this and I respect his views,” Ouseley said. “If Kick It Out had the power to sort this out then we would have done. Sorry Jason, we don’t have that kind of power.
“It has been intolerable for Anton Ferdinand and his family, with the hurtful and abusive messages they have been subjected to. A personal apology last October would have saved everybody the pain they have gone through. I would like to think that a personal apology would be forthcoming.”
In addition to his suspension, Terry’s abuse of Ferdinand has cost him a combined sum of £550,000, with Chelsea opting to stick with the sanction of docking him two weeks’ wages, often used for trivial offences, rather than applying to the PFA for permission to levy a larger fine, which in this case would have been granted.
There is a code of conduct in place at Chelsea that outlaws racist abuse, but does not include any set sanctions. The maximum punishment for any form of discrimination in the FA’s new code, which was signed by England’s players this week, is an indefinite suspension.
Gordon Taylor, the PFA chief executive, welcomed Terry’s apology, but said it should have come far earlier. “There should have been an apology straightaway followed by a serious demonstration of remorse,” Taylor said. “It’s done so much damage to the individuals, as well as the game as a whole.”
‘After careful consideration, I have decided not to appeal against the FA judgment. I want to take this opportunity to apologise to everyone for the language I used in the game against Queens Park Rangers last October.
Although I’m disappointed with the FA judgment, I accept that the language I used, regardless of the context, is not acceptable on the football field or indeed in any walk of life.
As I stated in the criminal case, with the benefit of hindsight my language was clearly not an appropriate reaction to the situation for someone in my position.
My response was below the level expected by Chelsea Football Club, and by me, and it will not happen again. Looking forward, I will continue to do my part in assisting the club to remove all types of discriminatory behaviour from football.
I am extremely grateful for the consistent support of Chelsea FC, the fans and my family.’
‘Chelsea Football Club believes John Terry has made the correct decision by not appealing against the FA judgment relating to language he used at the QPR match last October.
Chelsea also appreciates, and supports, John’s full apology for the language he used. The club firmly believes such language is not acceptable and fell below the standards expected of John as a Chelsea player.
The Board has conducted its own investigation into the matter, and considered the various issues involved. The Board has taken further disciplinary action in addition to the four-match suspension and £220,000 fine imposed by the FA. In accordance with our long-standing policy, that disciplinary action will remain confidential.
Chelsea enjoys support all over the world. We have players and supporters from many different countries and cultures and our club is committed to eradicating all forms of discriminatory behaviour. John is fully committed to continue supporting that ongoing work.’