John Terry may have been found innocent of racial abuse by the Westminster Magistrates' Court in July, but the Football Association found the veteran of Chelsea and England football guilty of those same charges on Thursday morning.
The Mirror broke the news on Twitter:
GUILTY: John Terry banned for FOUR GAMES by FA disciplinary hearing.— MirrorFootball (@MirrorFootball) September 27, 2012
He has also been fined £220,000, according to an FA press release. Of course, Terry has the right to appeal the decision, which would freeze these punishments until the Appeal Board came to its own decision.
Terry has since released a statement (via Sky Sports):
A statement issued by Terry's management company said: "Mr Terry is disappointed that the FA Regulatory Commission has reached a different conclusion to the clear not guilty verdict of a court of law.
"He has asked for the detailed written reasons of the decision and will consider them carefully before deciding whether to lodge an appeal."
The fallout from his incident with Anton Ferdinand of Queens Park Rangers last October continued on Thursday, and his punishment will surely set a precedent for penalties that will be doled out in racially based issues such as this.
Terry had already retired from international duty in the wake of the FA's hearing, saying (via BBC), "In pursuing charges against me where I have already been cleared in a court of law, [the FA] have made my position with the national team untenable."
This was not just a huge decision by the FA, but the entire situation has been seen as a huge moment for race relations and tolerance in sport in general. Dan Roan of BBC put it well before the verdict was released on Thursday:
At stake is not just the reputation of one of the most prominent figures in the English game. This has also shone a spotlight on the conflicting interests at the heart of the FA's disciplinary process and its relationship with the law.
This has always been about so much more than simply what one man said to another on a pitch. The Terry case raised serious questions about football's fight against discrimination. FA independent panels have handed out many judgements in the past. Few will have been as important as this.
But will Terry's reputation really take a serious hit? His supporters will point out that he was found innocent of these charges in a court of law. Which findings are we to believe?
I don't think we've heard the last of this situation. Today's decision by the FA is going to keep this conversation relevant for some time, both in English football and abroad.
Still, no matter where you fall on the FA's decision, it is positive to see the vigilance with which they've sought to eliminate racial intolerance in the game. Far too often we hear of racial abuse coming from the stands and directed at the players.
While reprehensible, ignorant people will always exist, that level of ignorance and intolerance doesn't belong on the pitch.
After this ruling, the FA have made that very, very clear.
Hit me up on Twitter—my tweets wouldn't allow fake Golden Tate touchdowns to stand.