Friday, July 13, 2012

John Terry - innocent of racism, guilty of sarcasm

So John Terry was guilty after all, but only of sarcasm. At Westminster Magistrates' Court this afternoon, he was found not guilty of a racially-aggravated public order offence by allegedly making a racist remark to Anton Ferdinand in a Premiership game last year.

There was no doubt that he used the words f***ing black c**t in an on-pitch exchange. Even people like me who aren't professional lip-readers could see that. The question was the context. John Terry argued that he was repeating the phrase sarcastically in order to deny saying it, and the prosecution argued that he meant it as a racist insult. Mr Terry's argument was found to be the more credible.

So that's it then?  Everyone shakes hands and we move on? Well maybe. The level of insults that are exchanged between players has surprised some people, even though this kind of thing has been happening for decades, and not just in football. The issue is the example that this type of behaviour sets for millions of youngsters who idolise sporting heroes. I wouldn't be in the least surprised if copycat behaviour was happening in playgrounds around the country.

With dozens of cameras trained on every top-class sporting event, and instant analysis from experts of every incident, players need to be aware of the impact of their behaviour. Presumably the point of the insults is to upset an opponent and put them off their game. If everyone is doing it, the value seems to be limited. Perhaps in addition to goal-line technology, legislators could require every player to wear a wireless mike. Insults would stop immediately, though football matches might end up looking like a Steps reunion concert. It might be worth it (perhaps as an experiment it could be an extra requirement of Rangers re-admission to the third division of Scottish football).

Come on guys. We pay your wages. Show a little more respect.

1 comment:

Ian R McAllister said...

Great post Alan!

I conclude personally that if he had been tried in Scotland, that they would have found him "Not Proven". In other words, there's something there, but not enough evidence on this occasion to find him guilty. Under English/Welsh law its A or B, and when its innocent until proven guilty the right legal decision was made.

However, as you indicate in your post, the wider implications of the England captin using racist language need to be dealt with. The FA have held judgement until post the legal case, and now personally need to follow-through with their anti-racism campaign.

If Suarez went down for 8 matches, and Joey Barton for some violence a similar duration, how many for JT admitting openly in a court that he did? I'm thinking 12+