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England soccer player Terry testifies he was angered by racial abuse claim

By Jonathan Wald and Matthew Chance, CNN
July 10, 2012 -- Updated 1716 GMT (0116 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: John Terry says he was angry because he thought Ferdinand had called him a racist
  • Ferdinand says he did not hear Terry's alleged racist abuse, but would have been hurt
  • Terry, one of England's biggest stars, faces a potential fine of about $3,900 if convicted
  • English soccer officials are trying to stamp racism out of the sport

Editor's note: This report contains offensive language.

London (CNN) -- John Terry, one of England's biggest soccer stars, testified as his trial entered its second day Tuesday that he was upset and angry when he thought he had been accused of racial abuse by another player.

The normally staid chambers of Westminster Magistrates' Court got an earful of shockingly foul language Monday, as the court heard what the Chelsea captain allegedly said to Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand.

Early in the session Tuesday, jurors heard an interview the Football Association conducted with Terry after the October 23 match.

Terry said he was upset because he thought Ferdinand had accused him of racism. "I was really angry and cross about him calling me a racist," he said in the interview.

Terry made that point again as he was questioned before the court Tuesday. "When he's accused me of that, I couldn't control my emotions," Terry said.

The prosecution suggested Terry couldn't keep his temper because Ferdinand had taunted him over his alleged affair with a teammate's girlfriend. "You couldn't, could you? You're not a racist but you used racist language. You snapped, didn't you?" the prosecutor asked.

But Terry rejected the argument, saying: "It's two years on, I've heard that a 100 times, a million times. If I was going to snap I would have snapped long before."

The Chelsea captain told the court he was repeating what he mistakenly thought Ferdinand had accused him of saying as they traded insults in a heated game.

In the interview with the Football Association, Terry said he spoke with Ferdinand after the match to ask him if the defender had accused him of making a racist comment. "I said to ‪Anton‬, 'was you accusing me of calling you a black c---?' and he said 'No, not at all.'"

In the interview Terry said: "If I had something to hide I would have whispered it into someone's ear."

Chief Magistrate Howard Riddle earlier rejected a request by Terry's legal team to dismiss the case due to "insufficient evidence."

A lip reader watching a video of the incident on Monday told the court what Terry said, including two extremely obscene words.

Soccer star arrives for race abuse trial
Footballer John Terry accused of racism

Terry does not deny directing a barrage of foul language at Ferdinand and referring to him as "black," but he denies engaging in racist abuse.

The highly unusual criminal prosecution over words uttered on a soccer field comes as English soccer officials fight to stamp racism out of the sport, with mixed results.

Liverpool player Luis Suarez was banned for eight matches when the Football Association, the English sport's governing body, found he had racially abused Manchester United defender Patrice Evra.

The chanting of racist abuse by fans also remains a sporadic problem in soccer across Europe.

The Crown Prosecution Service is pressing charges against Terry for a "racially aggravated public order offense" because of the comments during the match between Chelsea and Queens Park Rangers.

Prosecutors played a video of the incident, without sound, as the case opened Monday morning.

The alleged abuse came after Ferdinand knocked Terry down during the game, the jury heard.

When he got up, Terry made a gesture as if Ferdinand's breath smelled, and he called Ferdinand a "c---," prosecutor Duncan Penny told the court.

Ferdinand responded with the same word, saying it described Terry, not him, because Terry had had sex with a teammate's partner, the prosecutor said.

Ferdinand also made an obscene gesture related to sex as Terry ran back into position, Penny said.

Ferdinand testified that he did not hear the comments Terry made at him, but that he would have been "hurt and disappointed" if he had heard Terry call him a "black c---"

"When someone brings your color into it, it takes it to another level and it's very hurtful," Ferdinand said.

Terry maintains that Ferdinand knocked him down before the incident and that the two then exchanged "normal football verbals."

He told Football Association officials that he then repeated to Ferdinand words he thought the opposing player had said to him, Penny told the court Monday.

The maximum penalty for the offense is £2,500 (about $3,900).

That would be a drop in the bucket for a player worth millions, but a criminal conviction could lead to action against him by his team or England's Football Association.

Terry was captain of England's national team at the time of the incident but was stripped of his captaincy after a preliminary court hearing on the racism charge in February.

He remained captain of Chelsea, which went on to win the prestigious European Champions League this year.

The trial could last up to five days, court officials say.

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