FA’s case starts as Terry-Ferdinand saga winds to a close

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England has decided on the first sideshow of this season’s soccer media cycle, and it’s The FA’s case against John Terry. Proceeding started today at Wembley, Terry’s likely to end up with a suspension, and the Chelsea captain doing his own part contributing to the maelstrom. Yesterday the former England captain announced he would no longer play for his country. Terry should be allowed his prerogatives, but the timing could have been better.

The Guardian and Mark Redding have a very good rundown on what’s going on. Terry’s going through the same thing that Luis Suárez did last year. The process has a 99.5 percent conviction rate. A “balance of probability” needs to be shown to convict, and for a case to make it this far, The FA must already feel the evidence is compelling. Terry’s going to have to provide an alternative story.

Per the piece, Terry’s defense won’t center around whether he said the words we won’t print here. He’ll claim the phase wasn’t used a an epithet; rather, he was repeating something he’d heard.

Terry’s already been cleared of these charges in a criminal case, something which has a bearing on The FA’s proceedings. Per The FA’s rules:

“Where the subject matter of a complaint or matter before the Regulatory Commission has been the subject of previous civil or criminal proceedings, the result of such proceedings and the facts and matters upon which such result is based shall be presumed to be correct and the facts presumed to be true unless it is shown, by clear and convincing evidence, that this is not the case”

This might make the “balance of probability” standard less relevant than The FA’s ability to rationalize why they should consider evidence “clear and convincing” where the courts did not. Given the federation brought their charges after Terry was cleared in court, it’s likely they’ve already wrapped their head around that problem.

The key pieces of evidence will likely be video tape and Anton Ferdinand’s testimony. Video shows Terry mouthing the accused words in the direction of the Queens Park Rangers defender. Ferdinand’s testimony recounts the same. Terry will try to present another side.

Redding says a four-match suspension is the most likely result. Suárez got eight. How to reconcile that difference? Suárez directed “negro” at Evra repeatedly, a factor in The FA’s final decision. If he’s convicted, Terry’s one-off comment should be deemed less egregious.

This is the 11th month of this ordeal, with the QPR-Chelsea match which sparked this story taking place in Oct. 2011. Thanks to this proceeding, this will also be the last month of this ordeal. We’ll likely know by the weekend whether Terry will play Saturday at Arsenal.