For decades, racist language has plagued English soccer fields, but for the first time, the country has chosen to make one player pay the price for a racist statement hurled at a Black player.
In an October soccer match between two regional squads, the captain of both England’s national team and regional team Chelsea, John Terry, allegedly yelled a racist remark toward Black player Anton Ferdinand of the opposing team.
Now, following a preliminary investigation into the incident, England’s Crown Prosecution Service announced Wednesday that Terry has been formally accused of committing a “racially aggravated public order offense” under British law.
"The decision was taken in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors and after careful consideration of all the evidence, I am satisfied there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction and it is in the public interest to prosecute this case,” Alison Saunders, Chief Crown Prosecutor for London said.
Terry’s trouble adds to the list of horror stories which amplify the issue of racism in England’s soccer world. Earlier this week, Luis Suarez, a member of another regional team, Liverpool, was banned for eight games and slapped with a $62,000 fine by England's Football Association for racial abuse of a player during a separate game in October.
England’s decision to take a hardline stance on racism in soccer starkly contrasts with remarks made by FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who recently said that there are no racial issues in international soccer and added that players who believe they have experienced racism should remember “this is a game.”
However, for Terry, the situation is no longer a laughing matter. If found guilty, Terry will face only a $4,000 fine, but the damage to his reputation could seriously hurt his career in the long run, jeopardizing his chances of representing the country at international tournaments.
“I have never aimed a racist remark at anyone and count people from all races and creeds among my closest friends. I will fight tooth and nail to prove my innocence. I have campaigned against racism and believe there is no place for it in society,” Terry said.
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