As I watched the John Terry trial unravel over the course of the past week, I came to think that the only possible verdict could be guilty. A professional lip reader (not that you need a qualification to see what Terry was saying) spelt out to Westminster Magistrates' Court that the words "f***** black c***" were used against QPR's Anton Ferdinand. It was this professional evidence that led me to think that Terry's legal team may as well concede defeat.
Their defence was astonishingly far-fetched, but it worked: Terry claimed that he was sarcastically repeating a slur that Ferdinand mistakenly thought he had used. The prosecution case did not meet the criminal standard of proof, and thus Mr Terry was acquitted of the offence. At a legal and technical level, I have respect for the decision and I can (just about) appreciate why the racially aggravated public order offence could not be proved beyond reasonable doubt given the circumstances of the altercation and what was said in the run up to Terry's outburst.
But the technicalities of criminal justice and standards of proof will not be dwelt upon, or even considered by the mass media. Essentially, what many will draw from this case is that a highly paid professional can lose his rag, call someone a f****** black c***, and walk away an innocent man. This is not the right message to be sending out to the footballing community. I hope that the Crown Prosecution Service reflect upon their original decision to take on the case, and realise that this was probably something that should have been dealt with by the FA - at far less cost to the taxpayer.
I do hope that the FA restart their investigation into this incident and come to their own conclusion. Without being bound by the strictures of the Criminal Justice System I think there is more than enough evidence to make a proper judgement on both players' actions that day. Justice may have been done today, but the outcome was neither a victory for John Terry nor the footballing community.