July 9th, 2012 by Marie-Claire Clinton
I utterly deplore any kind of discrimination – for me, people are people are people irrespective and I was always taught to treat people the way I would wish to be treated. Clearly sometimes in my job I do have to adopt a persona and be harsh and uncompromising – that’s all part and parcel of the role and it is understood that it is not personal.
Football seems to have its own rules and verbally abusing the opposition seems to be tolerated much more than in the average walk of life. However, even in football there seems to be a sea change and I was very relieved to see that the hyped racism in the recent Euro competition did not come to fruition.
It is also gratifying to see that the legal system is prepared to step in when a player seems to over-step the mark, as we are seeing this week with the John Terry trial for alleged racism against Anton Ferdinand.
What is interesting is that the defence seems to be not that Terry denies saying the words (in all honesty, how could he when it is all on film and even a moderately competent lip reader can understand what is being said). The defence seem to be:-
1. provocation in that Ferdinand was taunting him about an extra marital transgression;
2. whilst the words said were admittedly potentially racist, the way Terry said them was not in a racist way but in a sarcastic way.
More interestingly, Ferdinand admits that, at the time of the altercation, he did not feel racially abused and it was not until the clip of the incident was played back to him that he realised racist words had been used.
I do not know what the test is for the prosecution to make the case stick. Is it the recipient feels racially abused or is it that a right minded person would hearing those words or is it the intent of the person making the comments? I am sure the media reporting later in the week will make it clear.
What does make my blood boil, more than what was said, is that if Terry is found guilty he facing a maximum fine of £2,500!! Goodness knows how much the investigation and the trial will have cost – probably 100 times that figure, maybe more. And to someone as highly paid as Terry, £2,500 is a drop in the ocean.
Some will say that if found guilty it will adversely affect his career. If someone who has served time for violence offences is welcomed back into the fold (Joey Barton) I can’t see that a conviction for racist abuse will tarnish Terry’s reputation for long.
But on the up side, it has motivated me enough to write about it after a hiatus of weeks!