John Terry goes on trial over Anton Ferdinand racism claim
The Chelsea captain's court case finally begins at Westminster Magistrates today
FORMER England football captain John Terry goes on trial accused of racially abusing QPR defender Anton Ferdinand today. However, Chelsea appear to be prepared to stand by him come what may after manager Roberto Di Matteo described him as "our captain and our leader" and insisted that he would not be leaving Stamford Bridge.
The 31-year-old defender was charged with a racially-aggravated public order offence, for which the maximum sentence is a £2,500 fine, after the game against QPR last October.
A member of the public made a complaint about comments allegedly made by Terry during the match and he was questioned under caution in November last year. In December he was charged by the CPS.
That decision had huge ramifications for English football. The FA decided that the Chelsea man could not continue as England captain with a racism charge hanging over him, but their attitude prompted the resignation of then-manager Fabio Capello.
That, in turn, derailed England's preparations for Euro 2012 as the trial date was set for mid-July, after the tournament, so that players could give evidence.
Roy Hodgson was eventually appointed manager towards the end of last season. He then had to select a new captain and decide whether to play Terry alongside Rio Ferdinand, the brother of Anton, in the England defence.
In the event he chose to make Steven Gerrard the England skipper and left Rio Ferdinand out of the squad, effectively ending his long and distinguished international career.
Terry played in Euro 2012 despite the legal case, which will be heard at Westminster Magistrates' Court, hanging over him. Terry has denied the charge and the trial is expected to last five days.
Despite being charged and losing the England armband, Terry has enjoyed success in 2012. Chelsea won the FA Cup and Champions League, although the 31-year-old missed the final of the European competition after being sent off against Barcelona in the semi-final. He did however join in the celebrations, appearing on the pitch wearing full Blues kit after his team mates had triumphed over Bayern Munich on penalties.