John Terry deserves a break. Yes, I’m saying that because I am a die-hard Chelsea Football Club supporter. But I’m also saying that because I’m human, and so is Terry.
The British sports press has been relentlessly attacking Terry for years now, whether it be for his alleged affair with an ex-teammate’s ex-girlfriend four years ago, for his use of racist language toward a black footballer on an opposing team more than a year ago or for any other reason the media could create.
Neither of the above-mentioned incidents is respectable, as the affair and racial slur should never happen no matter who you are — especially if you are a major figure in the public realm.
But there are many other footballers who have done much worse things on the moral scale, and they are not targeted half as much as Terry.
Rio Ferdinand, center back for Manchester United, has allegedly had multiple affairs, with one causing him to unsuccessfully seek an injunction against a British publication, the Sunday Mirror, to prevent the story from being published.
For example, Manchester United star forward Wayne Rooney cheated on his pregnant wife numerous times with a prostitute. This was also not the first time he admitted to having affairs with prostitutes during their relationship.
Arguably worse than Terry, Ferdinand and Rooney is Ryan Giggs, the midfielder for Manchester United who not only cheated on his wife with a model but also with his brother’s wife. This infidelity was rumored to have occurred over a period of eight years.
But, it’s Terry — a family man who dedicates his time to charities for ailing children, donates his cleats and jerseys to young fans and passionately loves his team — who receives the most attention for his past misdemeanors.
His career with the England National Football Team was cut short when he chose to retire because of the way the English Football Association was persecuting him. The association decided to bring a case against him for his alleged use of racist words after he was found innocent in the Crown Court, England’s highest court of law.
After winning the Champions League, the most venerated club football award, last season, Terry, who was sitting out because of a red card he received in a previous match, was criticized for celebrating in his full kit when he did not play in the match. Never mind that every other Chelsea player on the bench did the exact same thing; it was Terry who was later demonized in the media for his actions.
In Europe, footballers are celebrities, and their lives are documented by the press and paparazzi. While Terry is a member of this elite circle, his every move is scrutinized to an unfairly intense degree, and the media seems to seek him out unlike any other footballer.
The general public chooses to overlook what he has given to Chelsea and England’s national team. He wears the captain’s armband with a deep pride for his duty. He led his country to success on countless occasions and continues to carry Chelsea to remarkable new heights.
Terry beats the crest over his heart and blows kisses of thanks to the supporters for a reason: He loves what he does and never takes his job for granted.
Terry has made grave mistakes, ones that not even I, his most faithful supporter, will deny. But the constant vilification of his life has reached disgusting levels. If Ferdinand, Rooney and Giggs can be let off the hook, why can’t Terry?
A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday, Nov. 14 print edition. Sara Levy is a deputy sports editor. Email her at [email protected]