John Terry found not guilty of racial abuse

Ex-England captain John Terry has been cleared of racially abusing footballer Anton Ferdinand. The Chelsea veteran defender had denied making the incriminated comments to the Queens Park Rangers player during a match at Loftus Road last October.

The 31-year-old told Westminster Magistrates' Court he was merely repeating what he thought Ferdinand had said to him as they insulted each other. The FA stated its inquiry into the incident will resume next week. It was alleged Terry had insulted Ferdinand in a Premier League match, describing him as "black" and using extreme sexual swear words.

Chief Magistrate Howard Riddle said: "The prosecution evidence as to what was said by Mr Ferdinand at this point is not strong. It is therefore possible that what he [Mr Terry] said was not intended as an insult, but rather as a challenge to what he believed had been said to him. In those circumstances, there being a doubt, the only verdict the court can record is one of not guilty."

Terry did not deny using the word "black" and swearing at Ferdinand. His defence was that he had thought Ferdinand was accusing him of using those words, and was simply repeating them.

Following the verdict, an FA spokesman said: "The FA notes the decision in the John Terry case and will now seek to conclude its own inquiries."

Alison Saunders, Chief Crown Prosecutor for London, was forced to defend the decision to bring the case to trial: "The very serious allegation at the heart of this case was one of racial abuse. It was our view that this was not banter on the football pitch and that the allegation should be judged by a court. That is justice being done and we respect the chief magistrate's decision."

The allegations led to John Terry being stripped of the England captaincy by the Football Association. Former England manager Fabio Capello did not agree with the decision and then resigned in protest.

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