The English Football Association (English FA), after much deliberation, has rendered their verdict against John Terry for the racial abuse allegations against fellow countryman, Anton Ferdinand. The English FA gave John Terry a four match Barclays Premiere League (BPL) ban in conjunction with a monetary fine.
Quite frankly, I find the verdict to be a bit head scratching. It isn’t that I feel the verdict isn’t satisfactory. But given the fact this case mirrors the Luis Suarez racial allegations case against Patrice Evra, and in understanding that Luis Suarez had to serve an eight game BPL ban last season, for me, the verdict brings about a lot of questions as to why the penalty for Terry was so different from the penalty Suarez received.
The two very different verdicts for two very similar cases shows that the English FA was inconsistent at best. They failed to set a real precedent in how they allocate and execute judgement in such a case going forward. In the midst of all of the hoopla and with the opportunity to set a precedent and standard of discipline, the English FA failed to draw a line in the sand with a definitive penalty that is equal across the board.
The most troubling aspect for me personally in how the English FA came to their conclusions is that the evidence against Suarez was less than the evidence that was available against Terry. There is clear video evidence of the statement Terry directed towards Ferdinand. From all accounts, the evidence used against Suarez was much more speculative than absolute. So it is reasonable to ask why did Suarez receive a much more severe penalty than Terry given the fact of the available evidence against both.
Suarez admitted that whatever was said to Patrice Evra, was simply lost in translation and it was a simple cultural misunderstanding. Anton Ferdinand stated that he provoked Terry with a reference to Terry’s well publicized extra-marital affair with then former Three Lions teammate, Wayne Bridge’s wife and Terry potentially reacted to that statement with racial abuse.
But given the circumstances and despite the different origins of the cases, the difference in verdicts seems unsatisfactory. It has to be made clear that racial abuse no matter the origin, has to be eradicated from the game or at the very least, there has to be a uniformed penalty for the grievance.
Moreover, in very subtle fashion, the English FA has put itself in a potential cultural crossfire in the way it allocated punishment in comparing the two cases and verdicts. Within the Terry verdict it would seem that the English FA played cultural favorites in rendering judgment if for nothing else, being a bit lenient towards their own English citizen in Terry compared to Suarez being a foreign player. Suarez is an Uruguayan international.
Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero, who is Argentine, recently hinted at the fact that it is his belief that foreign players are treated differently by the referees in comparison to English players in the BPL in getting certain calls after the Terry verdict was announced. Was he hinting at something else? For even a hint of that potential impropriety alone, it would have been prudent for the English FA to give equal punishment to both Terry and Suarez. Regardless if it were an eight match ban or four match ban for both. Especially given the sensitive nature of the cases and what cases like these mean to and for the game over all.
I don’t think an eight game ban for Suarez was too much nor do I feel the four game ban for Terry was too little in punishment. But I do think that anything less than equal punishment becomes part of the problem itself and doesn’t fix the problems the punishments are trying to solve given the fact the offenses were virtually equal. For me, it brings about more questions and a different set of potential problems moving forward.