LONDON (AFP) – (AFP) – Former England football captain John Terry took the witness stand Tuesday and told his trial that he was “very angry and upset” when he thought an opponent had accused him of making racist remarks.
The Chelsea captain is accused of using a racist slur against Queens Park Rangers player Anton Ferdinand during a match between Chelsea and QPR on October 23 last year.
Terry, standing trial at Westminster Magistrates Court in London, told the court he was sarcastically repeating words he thought Ferdinand had said to him.
Terry said the pair began trading insults when he did not return the ball to QPR.
The Chelsea captain then ran back to his position and turned round to face Ferdinand.
“He was doing a pumping action” and referring to Terry’s alleged affair with the mother of a former team-mate’s child, the married father of twins said.
Speaking quietly, Terry said he was taunted about the allegations “more or less every game” and had “heard it all before”.
“It’s part and parcel of the game; you just get on with the game, basically,” he said, and try to “laugh it off”.
Terry said that after the match, he asked Ferdinand if he had accused him of using the racist obscenity.
“His reply to that was ‘no,no,no. We all said things we shouldn’t have said, that’s the end of it’.
“I asked him twice and he said no. I thought that was the end of it.”
The prosecution asked Terry why he repeated the slur rather than simply asking, “What?”.
Terry replied: “Hindsight’s a wonderful thing. At the time I was shocked, I was angry; you can’t control your emotions.”
The 31-year-old denied that he had “snapped”.
The England defender said he had not considered apologising to Ferdinand.
“Why would I apologise to Anton when he is the one who accused me? What I said was in response to what Anton said to me,” he said.
Terry said he had co-operated fully with inquiries by the police and the Football Association (FA), the sport’s governing body in England.
The 2012 Champions League winner gave evidence after his lawyer had asked for the case to be dismissed.
George Carter-Stephenson said Ferdinand was an unreliable witness and lip-reading experts agreed it was impossible to clarify what was said at the key moment from the footage.
The case was “so weak and tenuous it does not warrant it going any further,” he said.
However, judge Howard Riddle ruled that there was a case to answer.
“I have been called a lot of things in my football career, and off the pitch, but being called a racist I am not prepared to take,” the court heard Terry saying on the tape.
“I am not having Anton thinking that about me or anyone else,” he said.
“I was hurt by it, taken aback and really surprised,” Terry said. “It’s something I took and didn’t like it at all.”
Terry said he was aware of how a video of the incident looked to those who did not know the context and acknowledged that the footage “did not look good.”
But he added: “I know I have nothing to hide.”
If it was the case, a player would not be “projecting it” in front of a packed stadium and dozens of television cameras, he said.
It emerged in court that the only person who initially complained to police about Terry was an off-duty police officer.
If found guilty, Terry could be fined up to £2,500 ($3,850, 3,150 euros).
The trial, expected to last five days, continues Wednesday.