After a week of murmurs and indecisions, it has come to the knowledge of the common folk that the English Football Association are indeed capable of releasing official statements.
A week after an FA appointed Independent Regulatory Commission’s decision to suspend John Terry for four official games and a impose a fine of £220,000, pending appeal for “using abusive and/or insulting words and/or behaviour towards Queens Park Rangers’ Anton Ferdinand and which included a reference to colour and/or race”, the FA as of today released Written Reasons for John Terry suspension verdict, which concludes with the following -
Taking into account all of the relevant factors, and balancing them in the scales, the Commission took the view that a suspension from competitive matches involving Chelsea’s first team for four matches was an appropriate sanction, together with an index-linked financial penalty of £220,000.
They have also made the following observation, among many others, which happens to be the most significant and damning with regards to a particular accusation against him.
A significant number of those who are, or have been, involved in the game of professional football have provided character references for Mr. Terry. They include black players who attest to the fact that, as Chelsea club captain, he welcomes every player to the club and looks after them, irrespective of skin colour, race or ethnicity. The statement of Ryan Bertrand is perhaps the most notable. It is accepted by everyone involved in the criminal and disciplinary proceedings that Mr. Terry is not a racist.
Not a racist then. Instead he has been charged on the basis of ‘Balance of Probability’. That after a Court of Law ruled ‘Not Guilty’ in his favour. Over-ruling a court order, they have dedicated their time in balancing the scales. However, that has not been the only thing raising the eyebrows all over. Firstly, it took the FA more than a week to release the complete verdict. In the meantime, the Press have had a field day. It does not merit that the names be presented here but most of the British Press have been only too willing to oblige in branding John Terry a racist. It is nothing short of devilry on the part of the FA, who are only too well informed to recognise the ramifications an incomplete verdict will have. With a void left behind on the exact nature of verdict and deliberations, the FA have been culpable in allowing the vultures in the press to pounce and state whatever they may. Despite being stated otherwise in today’s verdict, he continues to get pulverized as a racist.
Second is the curious case of regulation 6.8 of the FA. The FA commission is possibly in breach of its own Rule 6.8 as it has convicted Terry after he was acquitted by a court of law, which is what the regulation 6.8 states, of presuming the facts and evidence being presented in a court of law as correct, unless there were clear and convincing evidence for the opposite, which the FA only too happily admits it does not have. The reasons for not employing rule 6.8 are flimsy at best, as the evidence was thoroughly examined by the court for a longer duration than by FA’s panel. And the new evidence that FA suggests to introduce to over-rule regulation 6.8, which is John Terry’s Barcelona episode, has occurred a full 6 months after the Loftus Road affair. So technically it is a new evidence, a whole 6 months after the case was registered.
This goes on to suggest that the FA have spent the last week in just stitching together a legally reasoned justification for a pre-determined decision, while letting people draw their own conclusions in a bid to let their final verdict look to be a part of the proceedings and not as a precursor to what has happened. Some of the reasoning in John Terry’s conviction is beyond farcical and absurd, such as not reacting in an aggressive manner when being accused of something very demeaning by a fellow footballer on the pitch or that the use of ‘C’ word on a football pitch is okay as long as it isn’t aimed at either an official or a member of the public.
As if all this wasn’t already damning enough for English Football, the FA have made an accusation of perjury, of lying under oath in a court. In their Written Reasons, the FA have refuted Ashley Cole’s testimony to the panel, while also questioning Chelsea Club secretary and FA Councillor David Barnard. The affair has now been blown out of proportion by accusing two people of lying under oath not only to the panel but also in a court of Law. Ashley Cole is already under trouble for his angry response on being branded a liar on a social networking site.
Something that should have been allowed to settle after the court had ruled its verdict was allowed to arouse emotions again. Make no mistake that this indeed is a very very sensitive issue and John Terry does not deserve much sympathy, or any sympathy at all for his actions off the pitch have hardly ever been inspiring. However, that should not be allowed to satisfy the flawed moral fabric of the society. The anti-racism campaigns by the FA are thoroughly laudable but their conduct throughout this unfortunate saga has been questionable, such as in the questionable comments from Rio Ferdinand on a social networking website.
Inadvertently and expectedly, the usual “Innocent until proven Guilty” has become Guilty until proven Innocent in this case. While the hounds continue to call for Terry’s head, the FA have washed off their hands in a bid to restore their own moral high ground in the affair, evidence or not. Some would suggest that John Terry pursue a legal recourse, due to the fact as pointed out by one observer, “The flaws in the verdict could be debated over for 90 years.” In hindsight though, it will only serve to bring bad light on the beautiful game even further. The best course of action for John Terry would be to accept the decision, probably releasing a statement stating the greater credentials of a Court Verdict rather than an FA Panel and get on with it. As defeatist as it may sound for someone who is known for his character on the pitch, this may leave some of his character untainted off the pitch, if there is any left at all.