John Terry, England Soccer Captain, Charged with On-Field Racism [Video]

England and Chelsea soccer captain John Terry is to face criminal charges over allegations that he racially abused an opposition player on the pitch. The news marks the first time in the 150+ year history of English soccer that a player will be prosecuted over words uttered on the field of play.

Terry is accused of abusing Anton Ferdinand of Queens Park Rangers. A video (embedded below, no sound) shows the alleged incident taking place. In the brief footage, Terry is seen shouting in Ferdinand’s direction. Terry has since admitted yelling the words, “F***ing black c***.”

However, the accused says he was merely repeating an insult that had been thrown at him (somebody called the white John Terry black? Er …), and that his words have been taken out of context. The defender insists he’ll combat the charges against him. In a statement to the press he said:

“I have never aimed a racist remark at anyone and count people from all races and creeds among my closest friends. I will fight tooth and nail to prove my innocence.”

The potential maximum penalty of a $4,000 fine is small for a man who earns over $100,000 a week, but if Terry is found guilty he will almost certainly be stripped of the England captaincy, and may well be dropped from the England squad for good. His future at his club, Chelsea, would probably be safe, but I’d imagine opposition fans will not be so charitable.

Examples of racism are still relatively uncommon in English soccer, where governing bodies have clamped down on discrimination; certainly, things have moved on from the 1980s, when black players would routinely have bananas thrown at them. However, the issue has reared its head again recently, after Liverpool striker Luis Suarez received an eight-match ban and $60,000 fine from the English FA for racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra.

What do you make of the video below? And what penalty would you impose on John Terry?