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Chelsea back skipper Terry as racism trial begins

CHELSEA captain John Terry today began facing a criminal charge at a week-long trial in London over accusations he racially abused Queens Park Rangers player Anton Ferdinand.

Terry went on trial at a criminal court in the Marylebone area of London. The 31-year-old was charged in December with a racially aggravated public order offense for using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour against Ferdinand, a defender for Queens Park Rangers on October 23, according to prosecutors. Terry denies the allegations.

Alison Saunders, chief crown prosecutor for London, said in December she was "satisfied there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction and it is in the public interest to prosecute this case." The magistrates court trial is being held in front of a judge who will rule without a jury.

Terry was captain of the England soccer team until February 3, when the English Football Association stripped him of the role until the racism charge was resolved. His Chelsea side went on to win both the FA cup and the Champions League.

England manager Roy Hodgson, who was appointed in May, selected Terry to play in the Euro 2012 Championships in Poland and Ukraine.

Misunderstanding

Chelsea lost 1-0 in the Queens Park game at Loftus Road when the alleged racist abuse occurred.

Terry said afterward that he had spoken with Ferdinand and that "it was all a misunderstanding." Chelsea have said they will support Terry.

Terry has lost the England captaincy once before. Then-England manager Fabio Capello stripped him of the role in February 2010 over allegations of marital infidelity with the ex-girlfriend of former teammate Wayne Bridge.

He was then reinstated in March 2011 during Euro 2012 qualifying.

Terry faces a maximum fine of £2,500 (€3,152) if convicted of the offense. Terry's lawyer, Dan Morrison, declined to comment.