Sunday, July 15, 2012

Newsround's report of the John Terry trial outcome misled their intended audience.

According to a live report on Friday afternoon, John Terry had told the court that he was only repeating words that he thought he had already heard, and the judge agreed. The Chief Magistrate acquitted, but not because he thought Terry was telling the truth - he didn't. In fact the magistrate, Howard Riddle, said that "Mr Terry's explanation is, certainly under the cold light of forensic examination, unlikely." Mr Riddle also concurred with the prosecution that Anton Ferdinand had been "brave" to give evidence.

This legal case has highlighted the issue of racism in football. Anton's brother, Rio Ferdinand, has been in the forefront of the fight against racism and bullying, though he has been accused of prejudice himself. Some years ago Rio used a homophobic word on Radio 1, and more recently he's been criticised by some for endorsing a race-related term about Ashley Cole - a defence witness in the John Terry trial.

Footballers are often seen as role models. Perhaps they would deserve this accolade more if they stood together to condemn all prejudice-based language, including homophobic language. Had football players like Rio Ferdinand and David Beckham been willing to speak out, it's unlikely this unfortunate case would have arisen.

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