The court case was one of the most closely watched sagas in world soccer, as Terry is the captain of Chelsea FC and former captain of England’s national team. The 31-year-old was facing a criminal charge that — if convicted — would have earned him a fine and damaged his reputation.
The case stems from Queens Park Rangers’ (QPR) 1-0 win over Chelsea on October 23. Terry and QPR’s Anton Ferdinand were involved in a verbal confrontation, and it was alleged that Terry made an abusive remark that made reference to Ferdinand’s race (he has a black father and white mother).
The players reconciled after the game, but an off-duty police officer who was in attendance brought evidence to the police that showed Terry making a remark that referred to Ferdinand’s race. That would be a crime under the U.K.’s laws against hate speech, but the presiding judge felt the prosecution did not prove Terry meant it as an insult. Terry claims he was only repeating what he thought Ferdinand had accused him of saying, according to the BBC.
“The prosecution evidence as to what was said by Mr Ferdinand at this point is not strong. It is therefore possible that what he [Mr Terry] said was not intended as an insult, but rather as a challenge to what he believed had been said to him.
“In those circumstances, there being a doubt, the only verdict the court can record is one of not guilty.”
Although he has been cleared of the criminal charge, Terry could still be sanctioned by the FA — English soccer’s governing body.