Asked if he had any regrets over his support for Terry, Di Matteo said: “I do not. I do believe the evidence he gave to the Magistrates Court is exactly what happened on the day. He was cleared in the Court.”
Terry, though, was found by an independent Football Association commission to
have used the phrase “f------- black c---” as an insult rather than a
The commission had a lower burden of proof than the Magistrates Court, which delivered a ‘not guilty’ verdict. Terry had said that he uttered the offending words as a question in the belief that Ferdinand had already accused him of a racist slur.
The Chelsea captain, however, has not appealed against the commission’s verdict along with his four-game ban and £220,000 fine. He has also been punished by Chelsea, understood to be a fine of £440,000.
Chelsea, though, would not specify on Friday whether they were punishing Terry for the commission’s conclusion that he did racially abuse Ferdinand or his own admission that he used the offensive words in a different context. “In either incidence we don’t think that language is acceptable,” said a club spokesman.
“We accept both of them [the Magistrates’ Court and the FA verdict]. He’s getting punishment and we’re taking actions against him as well. He stands by the evidence he gave.” Chelsea have been accused of operating double standards, however, after issuing a lifetime ban to a fan who was found to have racially abused Didier Drogba, albeit after successful criminal action. “We feel it’s appropriate,” said Di Matteo. “We don’t feel we’re operating differently.”
Di Matteo refused to specify what action the club was taking and would not say whether Terry, who will be at Tottenham on Saturday to support his team-mates, would captain the side against Shakhtar Donetsk when he is eligible to play in the Champions League on Tuesday.
The expectation is that Terry’s ongoing status as captain will be confirmed today when the club’s chairman, Bruce Buck, and chief executive, Ron Gourlay, speak publicly on the situation for the first time.
Di Matteo was involved in the discussions about how to punish Terry but, ultimately, it was a decision taken by the board in consultation with Roman Abramovich, the Chelsea owner. “I think he [Terry] realises he let himself down and the club in that day and moment,” said Di Matteo. “Certainly the image of the club has suffered from this issue. People make mistakes. He has apologised and is being punished.”
Asked if Terry was still a good symbol for Chelsea, Di Matteo said: “Time will tell us about this issue. He’s part of our squad and been a great servant. He’s made a mistake, let himself and the club down. He’s done a lot of good work as well.”
Di Matteo also said that Terry’s apology was meant to extend to Ferdinand. “He’s apologised to everyone, including the Ferdinand family,” he said. “Maybe not directly but to everyone for the language he used. He realises and accepts that on that day he fell below his and the club’s standards.”
Chelsea’s match at Tottenham on Saturday is the only Premier League fixture where players will not wear Kick It Out’s One Game, One Community T-shirts. Players across the leagues will be given T-shirts to wear in support of Kick It Out’s weeks of action.
But, with Spurs having held their commemorative match against Aston Villa on Oct 9, it is not until Chelsea host Manchester United next Sunday that their players will be handed the shirts. Tottenham had set aside Saturday to support Children in Need.