The case against Chelsea and former England Captain for alleged racism towards Anton Ferdinand seems to run and run.
Today has seen the start of FA disciplinary proceedings against Terry. He is charged with using insulting and/or offensive words towards Ferdinand including a reference to his colour or ethnic origin. If last years' case against Liverpool’s Luis Suarez is anything to go by he could face a long ban if the charges are proved. The case concerns an incident in the Chelsea v QPR game last season when Terry is alleged to have made racist remarks.
But hasn’t he already been cleared? Terry retired yesterday from International Football citing this fact as one of his reasons –
"I am making this statement today in advance of the hearing of the FA disciplinary charge because I feel the FA, in pursuing charges against me where I have already been cleared in a court of law, have made my position with the national team untenable.’
Has he got a point?
This demonstrates the important distinction between criminal proceedings and civil proceedings including disciplinary actions. A criminal charge has to be proved beyond reasonable doubt. It is a high standard, and rightly so. There must be strong evidence before someone is handed a criminal record. And there was some doubt in the criminal trial. This played a significant part in his acquittal. The magistrate said –
So that element of doubt was enough.
But in the Disciplinary Tribunal the standard is one of a balance of probabilities. In other words – is it more likely than not? In the confusion of a row between footballers this could well lead to a different finding.
Whether it does or not depends on then evidence. But just because he was cleared before a criminal court does not mean that it was not proper for the FA to charge him.
The case may run for several days.
Watch this space!