John Terry has been banned for four games after a Football Association commission found him guilty of using racist language towards QPR defender Anton Ferdinand during a match at Loftus Road in October.
Terry, 31 – who announced his decision to retire from international football before the start of the FA hearing, saying the association had made his position with the national team “untenable” – has also been fined £220,000.
He had strongly denied the FA charge of “using abusive and/or insulting words and/or behaviour towards Queens Park Rangers’ Anton Ferdinand and which included a reference to colour and/or race”.
A hearing into the charge against Terry began at Wembley on Monday, and could theoretically have lasted until Friday. In a statement, the FA said: “The decision is as follows: Mr Terry be suspended from all domestic club football until such time as Chelsea’s first team have completed four competitive matches, and fined the sum of £220,000.”
The FA said the commission would provide written reason for its decision “in due course”. Terry has 14 days after receiving the written reasons for the decision in which to appeal.
A statement from the former England captain’s management said he was “disappointed” by the punishment and would now be considering whether or not to lodge an appeal. It added: “Mr Terry is disappointed that the FA Regulatory Commission has reached a different conclusion to the clear not guilty verdict of a court of law.”
A Chelsea statement said the club “notes and respects today’s decision by the Football Association regarding John Terry”, adding: “We also recognise that John has the right to appeal that decision. It is therefore inappropriate for us to comment further on the matter at this time.”
The FA said the ban would be suspended “until after the outcome of any appeal, or the time for appealing expires, or should Mr Terry decide not to appeal”, meaning he will be available for selection against Arsenal on Saturday.
The prosecution in Terry’s London court case had been unable to prove that 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.
Delivering his verdict after a five-day trial at Westminster Magistrates Court, Chief Magistrate Howard Riddle said: “Even with all the help the court has received from television footage, expert lip readers, witnesses and indeed counsel, it is impossible to be sure exactly what were [all] the words spoken by Mr Terry at the relevant time.”
Announcing his decision to retire from international football on Sunday – a decision England manager Roy Hodgson said he had “reluctantly accepted” – Terry said: “I am making this statement in advance of the hearing of the FA disciplinary charge because I feel the FA, in pursuing charges against me where I have already been cleared in a court of law, have made my position with the national team untenable.”
Liverpool striker Luis Suarez was banned for eight matches after being found guilty of racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra last December. It had been widely thought likely that Terry would be given a similar ban if found guilty by the FA hearing, at which the burden of proof is lower than that in a criminal trial.
Ray Wilkins, who coached Terry for a period at Chelsea, was bitterly upset by the verdict that he believes may now wrongly brand the player a racist. “Does this brand John Terry a racist? He is not a racist. I am disappointed in the outcome,” he told ESPN, while not being prepared to add to his comment.
Wilkins gave evidence on Terry’s behalf at the Magistrates trial and was ready to give a character witness appearance on his behalf before the FA. The former Chelsea coach told ESPN earlier in the week how he called Terry moments after he announced his retirement from England duty.