England soccer captain John Terry on Wednesday promised to “fight tooth and nail” to clear his name after the Crown Prosecution Service for England and Wales said he would face criminal charges over an alleged racist slur made toward an opposing player.
The soccer star, who plays for Chelsea in London, will appear before West London magistrates court on Feb. 1 charged with a racially aggravated public order offense made during an altercation with fellow player Anton Ferdinand of Queens Park Rangers (QPR) in a fixture at QPR’S home ground, Loftus Road in west London, on Oct. 23.
If convicted, Terry, 31, will face a maximum fine of ￡2,500 (US$3,919), but a guilty verdict will have serious implications for his future in the national team.
Terry, who denies wrongdoing and retains the support of his club, said yesterday he was disappointed with the decision to charge him and hopes to be given the chance to clear his name as quickly as possible.
“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. I have campaigned against racism and believe there is no place for it in society,” he said.
Terry was caught on camera confronting Ferdinand near the end of Chelsea’s 1-0 loss at QPR. He released a statement that night insisting he had merely been repeating an accusation he felt had been made by Ferdinand. The Football Association began an inquiry and the police followed suit after an e-mailed complaint from a member of the public. The Crown Prosecution Service confirmed that additional evidence, thought to be new video footage, had come to light and police officers visited Terry’s home on Wednesday afternoon to confirm charges were to be brought against him.
“After careful consideration of all the evidence, I am satisfied there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction and it is in the public interest to prosecute this case,” said Alison Saunders, chief crown prosecutor for London.
The Football Association, whose own inquiries have been put on hold until the conclusion of the criminal investigation, declined to comment.