QPR footballer Anton Ferdinand only realised former England captain John Terry had aimed racial abuse at him during a match when he was shown a YouTube clip of it by his girlfriend hours later, a court heard yesterday.
Ferdinand had until then not seen or heard Chelsea skipper Terry call him a “f****** black c***”, he said at Westminster Magistrates Court as both players attended the first day of the high-profile trial.
Terry denies the charge of committing a racially aggravated public order offence, which was brought by the Crown Prosecution Service after Anton, brother of Manchester United star Rio, made a statement to police.
The trial, which centres around an incident during QPR’s 1-0 Premier League win over Chelsea at Loftus Road on 23 October 2011, is expected to last five days. If found guilty, Terry could be fined a maximum of £2,500.
Ferdinand told the court he would have informed the referee at the time – but not confronted Terry – if he had thought during the match that his opponent was using racist language.
“I would have been obviously very hurt and I probably wouldn’t have reacted at the time because, being a professional, you can’t do that,” he said. “I probably would have let the officials know what happened and dealt with it after the game. When someone brings your colour into it, it takes it to another level and it’s very hurtful.”
Until he was shown the clip on the internet video site later that day, Ferdinand had considered their spat nothing more than “handbags” and “banter”, he said, and shook hands with Terry after the match.
Ferdinand admitted goading Terry about an alleged affair with the former partner of an ex-Chelsea team-mate, Wayne Bridge, as they exchanged jibes following a disputed penalty claim. “He called me a c*** and I called him a c*** back and he gave me a gesture as if to say my breath smelled,” Ferdinand said. “I said to him, ‘How can you call me a c***? You sh***** your team-mate’s missus – you’re a c***’.”
Terry, who did not give evidence yesterday, accepts that he did use the words “f****** black c***” but only “by way of sarcastic exclamation or inquiry in relation to a perceived false accusation made by Mr Ferdinand”, prosecutors said.
The trial concludes a nine-month saga that has already seen Terry stripped of the England captaincy by the Football Association because of the allegations, prompting manager Fabio Capello to resign in February.
The FA, which put its own probe on hold when police began to investigate, did not block Terry’s selection for last month’s Euro 2012.