LONDON, July 13 (UPI) -- John Terry, captain of England's Chelsea soccer team, was acquitted Friday of hurling racial abuse at Anton Ferdinand of the Queens Park Rangers.
Magistrate Howard Riddle said Terry undoubtedly used a racial slur during an exchange with Ferdinand during a dispute about a penalty appeal in a match last fall, The Guardian reported. But Riddle found it was impossible to tell from witness accounts and videotaped footage what the context was because the complete exchange could not be understood.
"It is therefore possible that what he [Terry] said was not intended as an insult, but rather as a challenge to what he believed had been said to him," Riddle said. "In those circumstances, there being a doubt, the only verdict the court can record is one of not guilty."
While Ferdinand testified for the prosecution, he made no criminal complaint. The charges were brought by a police officer who had been watching the match on television while off duty.
In fact, Ferdinand said he only became aware of Terry's remarks when his girlfriend sent him a video that had been posted on YouTube.
Terry, 31, is a center back and has twice been captain of the English national team. Ferdinand, 27, is a defender. His brother, Rio, is a center back for Manchester United and has been on the national team.