FA handling of Terry case questioned
The former FA chairman Lord Triesman has voiced fears that black players will feel let down by the way the association handled the John Terry racism case.
Terry, 31, was banned for four games and fined £220,000 after an FA panel found him guilty of racially abusing QPR defender Anton Ferdinand during a match at Loftus Road in October.
The former England defender had been cleared of the offence after a court case in the summer. He had denied the charge, and may appeal against the FA verdict.
At Westminster magistrates court in July, he was found not guilty after the prosecution was unable to prove he had called Ferdinand a "f****** black c***'' as an insult. He claimed to have been repeating words he thought Ferdinand had accused him of saying.
Triesman indicated that he did not believe Terry, who announced his retirement from international football the day before the FA hearing began, should have played for England while the court case was still pending.
"I take a fairly hard view and I think we should have zero tolerance," he told BBC Radio Five's Sportsweek programme. He said he would have "preferred" it if the defender had not represented his country while awaiting the court case.
"However good he is - and I have no doubt about the quality of the player - I really think, as you look around the country and talk to black players, what you will find is they respect him as a player but they really feel let down because they don't feel the line has been drawn clearly enough."
He also said the delay of almost a year between the incident at Loftus Road and an FA verdict on Terry was wrong.
"The delay, the fact it has taken a year, is unconscionable," he said. "You shouldn't have any kind of system which has got a judicial, judgmental element, which takes this long because it gives the impression people are indifferent to the issues. And people shouldn't be indifferent to the issues.
"I can't for the life of me see why the FA couldn't have proceeded before the court case. Sports bodies do have the capacity to act earlier [than courts] to demonstrate their leadership, and they should have done so.
"I know some people will say [that] if you have any hearing it's likely to prejudice the outcome of the court case, but I think the application of the rules of the game is an issue for the body that controls the game - and those should be dealt with in a timely way.
"I just wonder what impression it gives to the rest of the world, and particularly to those players from ethnic communities who do face abuse, sadly - less than they used to, but still do face abuse - I wonder what it says to them if it takes a year to get to this stage."
Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) also voiced concern at the length of time taken by the FA to address the issue, and executive director Piara Powar said: "There are two key issues - one is the sanction itself and the other the time it's taken.
"It really is unforgivable that an offence that took place during a game 11 months ago has taken this long to come to a governance hearing.
"Of course, the FA will say there was a criminal trial and there was a request from John Terry's lawyers to postpone, but the two processes are entirely different.
"The almost year-long wait, the drawn-out saga, has done quite a lot of damage."
He said football now had to address the challenge of repairing its reputation and moving forward "in a positive way".
And he questioned the disparity between the eight-game ban given to Luis Suarez after he was found guilty of racially abusing Manchester United's Patrice Evra and the four-game ban handed to Terry.
"It doesn't sound very consistent - that I'm sure of," he said. "I suppose we'll all have to wait to see the written reasoning to see if there's a material difference between the two cases.
"If I was asked to guess [why the inconsistency], I'd think the dignity with which [chairman] Bruce Buck and the guys at Chelsea have handled this may well be in sharp contrast to the way Liverpool handled the Suarez case, which I thought was a masterclass in how not to do it."