The QPR defender was a reluctant witness rather than John Terry's accuser, but that did not stop the death threats
Put yourself in Anton Ferdinand's boots for a moment. Since long before Friday's not-guilty verdict, indeed since the flashpoint on 23 October at Loftus Road which set in motion the explosive chain of events, the Queens Park Rangers defender has found himself the subject of death threats and terrace bile.
His mother, Janice, has suffered terribly, receiving threatening correspondence at her home. She has had to involve the police and seek extra security. The Ferdinand family may choose one day to shed a little light on their collective experience. And all this from a case that her son did not drive and did not want to be a part of.
The common misconception regarding the trial was that it was somehow Ferdinand versus Terry, that the former was the prosecution rather than a reluctant witness for the Crown.
Ferdinand did not make the official complaint that set the wheels of the legal machinery clunking into action; it came from an off-duty police officer who had been offended by the footage of Terry mouthing the notorious obscenity. Even the Crown admitted Ferdinand was difficult to get hold of.
It was merely the QPR player's sense of obligation that led him to agree to give a statement to the police. He was told that he would have to do only this, that he would not have to go to court, which he did not want to do. Until the decision to prosecute Terry was taken Ferdinand had hoped for a show of contrition from the Chelsea captain that might have averted the prolonging of the saga, which reached its conclusion in court this week, when the senseless insults were forensically dissected.
No one emerged with credit, including Ferdinand, even if the chief magistrate Howard Riddle called him "brave" in his summing-up. Terry passionately felt that he had nothing to apologise for.
This is where the system and Ferdinand's part in it has got him, the apparent victim who has been vilified and, ultimately, left bewildered under a burning hot spotlight. And the fear has to be that if and when black players do feel that they have a racism complaint to make, they will stop, consider the eight months or so that Ferdinand has lived through and ask themselves whether it is truly worth it.
Football is the most tribal of pursuits, and even after the police and the Crown Prosecution Service and the courts have become involved in this instance, old habits have died hard. Sides were picked and positions entrenched long before the evidence was heard at Westminster.
There have been echoes of the Luis Suárez-Patrice Evra case, when the then Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish gave Suárez such unqualified support and the players wore those T-shirts. Chelsea gave the impression all along that they backed Terry regardless, even if the stance was vindicated in the end. On the eve of the trial, the manager Roberto Di Matteo was quoted as saying that "John Terry is our captain and leader … and hopefully, he will be the same for us next season".
At Liverpool last season there was a conspiratorial feeling that their rivals Manchester United were trying to destroy their best player and, by extension, the team, while Ferdinand has heard the criticism that he has developed a grudge and is taking it out on Terry and Chelsea. At times, the tribalism has overtaken the bigger picture.
Chelsea's support for Terry extended to 17 first-team players signing identical statements to say he was no racist. It might have taken a brave player to refuse to sign when he was effectively asked: "Are you with us or not? Pick your side."
Relations have been strained across the divide. Ashley Cole, for example, despite being a reluctant defence witness and his attempts not to say too much, will no longer be a friend of Anton Ferdinand.
The process has been fraught and deeper conversations must begin if, in future, those who feel they have been racially abused are to speak out. Read More
انسخ الكود التالى و ضعه فى موقعك او مدونتك.