Innocent Until Proven Guilty – Not For Some

I wrote this in the wake of the racial allegations against Luis Suarez and John Terry back in October 2011. Please note that this is just a comment on the media portrayal of the two cases and was written before either individual were incriminated…

John Terry. It’s impossible to think of any England captain who has been more universally vilified and reviled.

He abused American tourists at Heathrow airport in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He was charged with affray and assault (though later cleared) after an altercation with a nightclub bouncer in 2002.

In 2008 he received a £60 parking fine for using a disabled space outside a Pizza Express, rather than using the 50p/hour car park over the road. This is to say nothing of the extraordinary allegations into his personal life, which originally lost him the England captaincy just last year.

Video evidence has surfaced of John Terry supposedly racially abusing Anton Ferdinand (though the all important context of the conversation is so far unknown) and yet there are those in the English press jumping to defend their beloved captain, whilst castigating Luis Suarez for apparent racial discrimination towards Patrice Evra, of which there is no evidence whatsoever.

Martin Samuel of the Daily Mail wrote a horrific article this week, an argument that assumed the guilt of Suarez without being based on any hint of evidence or logic.

The assumption of the guilt of the foreigner is indicative of a disturbing xenophobia in British society – because he’s South American, because he dives a bit, he must be racist too.

Terry’s shocking list of previous misdemeanours has been seemingly ignored, yet the South American’s former transgressions (handball in a World Cup Quarter Final, biting an opponent, diving) have been blown out of proportion to assume his guilt.

Rather less publicised is that Suarez has been involved in charity work that has supported solidarity against religious, racial and social discrimination. But of course because he’s South American, he has to be guilty.

If Suarez is being judged and his guilt assumed on past behaviour then surely John Terry is incontrovertibly guilty? No, of course he isn’t.

The fact that both have previous form for misdemeanours is meaningless; both cases should be treated equally and on their merit.


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