What did John Terry say to Anton Ferdinand? Racism allegations explained - what Rio Ferdinand said on Twitter

During a spat on Twitter, Rio Ferdinand brought up John Terry’s 2012 ‘racism case’ that saw the former Chelsea captain accused of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand

In 2012, John Terry faced racial abuse allegations that saw him stripped of his England captaincy, fined and banned from four football matches regarding a comment allegedly made in reference to Anton Ferdinand - an incident which Ferdinand’s brother, Rio Ferdinand, has now brought up once again on Twitter.

This is everything you need to know about the racism allegations that Terry faced, the aftermath and what is currently happening on Twitter between the two former professional footballers.

Who is John Terry?

Terry is an English professional football coach and former professional player who was previously the captain for Chelsea, the England national team and Aston Villa.

He played with Chelsea from 1998 to 2017 and in July 2017, he signed a one year contract with Aston Villa, where he was appointed as captain for the 2017-18 season. He announced his retirement from playing football on 7 October 2018.

In his statement at the time, Terry said: “My club career and heart will always belong to Chelsea, but I am grateful for my loan spell at Nottingham Forest in 1999, which was invaluable for my development as a young player.

John Terry, Assistant Head Coach of Aston Villa warms his side up prior to the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Chelsea at Villa Park on May 23, 2021 in Birmingham, England (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

“And I also want to say a huge thank you to Aston Villa for giving me the opportunity to play at such a big club and captain it throughout the 2017-18 season.

“It was a privilege to represent such a renowned football club with great fans. I look forward to the next chapter in my life and the challenges ahead.”

In 2018, Terry was appointed as the assistant head coach of Aston Villa, alongside the newly appointed head coach Dean Smith. Three years later, Terry left the club and, in December 2021, announced that in January 2022 he would be returning to Chelsea in a coaching role.

Who is Anton Ferdinand?

Ferdinand is an English former professional footballer who most recently played for St Mirren, but also played for teams including for England at under-21 level. He is the brother of former professional football player Rio Ferdinand.

He has played with:

  • West Ham United, from 2003 to 2008
  • Sunderland, from 2008 to 2011
  • Queens Park Rangers, from 2011 to 2013
  • Bursaspor, on loan in 2013
Anton Ferdinand of Southend United in action during the Sky Bet League One match between Southend United and Northampton Town at Roots Hall on September 16, 2017 in Southend, England (Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images)
  • Antalyaspor, from 2013 to 2014
  • Police United, in 2014
  • Reading, from 2014 to 2016
  • Southend United, from 2016 to 2018
  • St Mirren, from 2018 to 2019

Ferdinand announced his retirement from professional football in July 2019 and in 2020 was the main focus of the BBC documentary titled Football, Racism and Me, which explored the issue of racism within the industry from a personal perspective.

What did John Terry say to Anton Ferdinand?

During a Premier League match between Chelsea and Queens Park Rangers on 23 October 2011, Terry was accused of calling Ferdinand a “f**king Black c**t”.

The pair appeared to have been involved in a heated exchange, and Terry was captured on video allegedly using the offensive term whilst walking away.

John Terry of Chelsea prepares to defend a corner with Anton Ferdinand of Queens Park Rangers during the FA Cup with Budweiser Fourth Round match between Queens Park Rangers and Chelsea at Loftus Road on January 28, 2012 in London, England (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Footage began to circulate on social media after the match which prompted Terry to release a statement in which he claimed that he only used the words to repeat back what he thought Ferdinand had accused him of saying.

Terry said: “I’m disappointed that people have leapt to the wrong conclusions about the context of what I was seen to be saying to Anton Ferdinand.

“I thought Anton was accusing me of using a racist slur against him. I responded aggressively, saying that I never used that term. I would never say such a thing, and I’m saddened that people would think so.”

What was the court case?

On 25 November 2011, Terry was interviewed under caution by the police and in December that year, he was charged with using racist language by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

At the time, Terry said: “I am disappointed with the decision to charge me and hope to be given the chance to clear my 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 have campaigned against racism and believe there is no place for it in society.”

Chelsea FC football player John Terry arrives at Westminster Magistrates court to stand trial for allegedly racially abusing Anton Ferdinand, on July 9, 2012 in London, England (Photo by Bethany Clarke/Getty Images)

In February 2012, Terry had his England captaincy stripped by the Football Association for the second time, with the organisation stating that he would not captain the national team until the racial abuse allegations against him were sorted.

The trial began in July 2012 and Terry entered a not guilty plea. He was acquitted of the charge on 13 July 2012.

While the court stated that, although there was “no doubt that John Terry uttered the words “f**king Black c**t” at Anton Ferdinand” it was “impossible” to know what was said in their exchange prior to what was captured in the video footage.

Senior district judge Howard Riddle said: “Weighing all the evidence together, I think it is highly unlikely that Mr Ferdinand accused Mr Terry on the pitch of calling him a Black c**t. However, I accept that it is possible that Mr Terry believed at the time, and believes now, that such an accusation was made.

John Terry leaves court after a not guilty verdict was reached of his alleged racial abuse trial on July 13, 2012 in London, England (Photo by Bethany Clarke/Getty Images)

“The prosecution evidence as to what was said by Mr Ferdinand at this point is not strong. Mr Cold gives corroborating (although far from compelling corroborating) evidence on this point.

“It is therefore possible that what he 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.”

What happened next?

On 27 July 2012, Terry was charged by the FA for using “abusive and/or insulting words and/or behaviour” which “included a reference to the ethnic origin and/or colour and/or race of Ferdinand”.

The FA had delayed the charge until after the end of Terry’s criminal trial - Terry denied the charge. This led to Terry retiring from England after claiming that his position with the team had become “untenable”.

The FA pressed forward with its own investigation and, after a four day hearing in September 2012, Terry was found guilty by the organisation. He was banned for four matches and fined £220,000.

Chelsea and England footballer John Terry leaves Westminster Magistrates court in London, on July 13, 2012 (Photo: WILL OLIVER/AFP/GettyImages)

In a 63 page report published by the FA regarding the disciplinary proceedings, conducted by an Independent Regulatory Commission, Terry’s defence was labelled as “improbable, implausible, and contrived” and that the Commission was satisfied that the “offending words were said by way of insult”.

Terry opted not to appeal the verdict and issued an apology in which he said the language that he used was “not acceptable on the football field or indeed any walk of life”.

What happened to Anton Ferdinand throughout the case?

Throughout the aftermath of the incident, Ferdinand was subject to racist abuse, despite not speaking out.

In his film, Football, Racism and Me, Ferdinand talked about the fallout.

Anton Ferdinand of Queens Park Rangers looks thoughtful prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Queens Park Rangers and Everton at Loftus Road on October 21, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)

Ferdinand said that he was advised to keep quiet, saying: “Bar a few close friends and family - mum, especially, and dad - everyone else was saying: “Don’t say anything, let the lawyers deal with it”.”

He experienced so much racial abuse on social media that he came to “expect” it every time he looked at his phone.

He said: “It was hourly. My mum’s house was targeted with missiles. I got sent bullets in the post.”

What’s going on with John Terry and Rio Ferdinand?

Terry and Rio Ferdinand have gotten into a dispute online following the former Manchester United defender’s interview with Virgil van Dijk, ahead of the Champions League final.

Rio Ferdinand placed himself top of the list in regards to the question of who is the Premier League’s best ever centre-half on BT Sport’s Between the Lines programme.

He placed Terry fifth on the list, something that he didn’t take too kindly to online.

Terry initially posted on his Instagram story a selection of statistics of his best honours and achievements, with the caption: “Opinions are great but stats don’t lie.”

Rio Ferdinand replied on Twitter, writing: “@JohnTerry26 The moment one has to start pushing their own record and stats it’s really time to start addressing the fragile ego. Your lucky I even put you in the top 5 after the racism case with my brother so be thankful you made it.”

Terry responded: “A fragile Ego is putting yourself at Number 1 @rioferdy5 Thanks for putting me in your top 5”