Tomorrow marks a day I’ve been dreading for months – the start of John Terry’s trial for alleged racism.
We’ve been able to put it on the backburner for quite a while – well, as much as you can put it on the backburner when every comment made about him seems to have had a character assassination attached – and in spite of snidey comments every time his name was mentioned, we got through the Premier League season and came out the other side with the FA Cup and Champions League trophies to distract us. Now though, it’s time to face the music and I’ve no doubt within a day or two, the crescendo surrounding John Terry and Chelsea FC will be pretty intense.
We know what the charge is – alleged to have shouted racial abuse at Anton Ferdinand during our game in October, he stands trial accused of a racially aggravated public-order offence. We also know there is video ‘evidence’ that seems to support the fact the words did actually come out of his mouth (even if we know Ferdinand didn’t hear it at the time). What we don’t know, is whether or not the context in which the words are suggested to have been said will bear any relevance on the outcome.
John Terry undoubtedly lost control of his head and his mouth during that game, a game where even the most placid amongst us could’ve headbutted a nun without remorse out of sheer frustration and a sense of injustice. There’s no love lost between the two sides anyway, the referee didn’t help to defuse the situation – if anything, he went about the proceedings like an arsonist who’s just come out of remission – and none of us know what might have already been traded verbally either on the pitch or in the tunnel. Suffice to say, it wasn’t ever going to be a love-in. And that’s not excusing or even defending John Terry – for a player, nevermind a captain, he behaved like a complete cock – but does that one moment of complete and utter stupidity make him a racist?
Anyone who knows anything about me as a person would know I abhor racism in any form. I saw absolutely no need for the way it was used to justify inhumane treatment of individuals historically and I see no need for it in this day and age either. Of course, it seems to have been diluted over time and what does and doesn’t constitute racism has got a bit fuzzy for some people but whilst you can argue there aren’t any grey areas because racism is racism full-stop, maybe the incidents that have brought it to the fore recently should serve as a reminder to us all just how fine that line has become in society’s apparent acceptance of prejudices?
The red mist is something we see come down time and again in football – on and off the pitch – whether it’s about the colour of someone’s skin, their sexuality, or even simply their allegiance, and boundaries are forever pushed to extremes. In fact, if you take a look at the football forums, blogs and social networking sites on any given day of the week, those boundaries appear to have no limits at all for some people. Even those who profess to be ‘defending’ fellow men, do so in such a judgemental and venomously personally attacking way that their own prejudices are abundantly clear by the time they’ve finished the tirade.
It’s all very well taking the moral high ground but defending an opinion with an oratory so full of personal insults and individual bias delivered like a manic preacher from his pulpit, is just a slippery slope really and one that isn’t likely to result in the Twitter colonists’ conversion. Because whilst some internet ‘prophets’ may well regard their sermon as the gospel, in this world of free speech we’re all entitled to our own opinion and no amount of expletives tweeted in our direction will entice us to become passengers on the latest bandwagon to roll into town.
Anyway, I digress, why have I been dreading tomorrow so much? Because I love my club and everything about it, including the players but that doesn’t necessarily equate to liking everything they do. They’re human, they make mistakes and whilst I’ve called plenty of players out for seemingly undervaluing the privileged positions they hold, the bottom line is that no amount of money or prestige can alter the human element.
For what has been years, John Terry has served Chelsea incredibly well as a defender and as a captain. I don’t give a toss what anyone outside of the club has to say about that, from a Chelsea supporter’s point of view, that’s just how it is. From a football perspective, his pace might not be greyhound-esque but he epitomises the phrase ‘British Bulldog’ in every aspect of his game. Cheesy but true. There isn’t another player I know who has the same level of commitment as consistently as our captain.
Of course he’s hated, any player whose contribution to a club’s success is as pivotal as John Terry’s is, is up there to be shot down. He’s acclaimed as a ‘Captain, Leader, Legend’ not just with Chelsea but was also able to transfer that leadership to international level until an affair with a team-mates ex saw him stripped of that particular captaincy. I mean, we all know you can’t captain at that level if you can’t keep your dick in your trousers eh Ryan?
JT doesn’t help himself much either to be honest, whether it’s extra marital activity or his family’s fuck ups, there always seems to be another stick to beat him with. Even on the field, there seems to be some sort of perception that he gets away with a bit more than most, although having seen him sit out our Champions League final, I’d beg to differ. He held his hands up to that error of judgement though and apologized for the rush of blood to his head that eventually ended up with him not just being berated for the incident itself but also for having the audacity to celebrate our Champions League win.
You see, that’s what’s really bothering me about tomorrow and the days to come – under the gaze of the watching world, JT can’t seem to do right for doing wrong. From everything I’ve see and heard over the past 7 or 8 months, the verdict is already in on the Chelsea captain and he hasn’t got a hope in hell of getting a fair trial. As far as anyone outside of Chelsea football club is concerned, John Terry is a racist and deserves to have the book thrown at him.
As far as I’m concerned though – it isn’t that black and white.