Chelsea defender John Terry looks likely to lose the England captaincy – not for the first time – when the FA announce the result of their probe into his racist slurs against Anton Ferdinand this week.
Allegations were made after QPR upset Chelsea 1-0 in a high-tension clash at Loftus Road on October 23 which featured two red cards for Terry’s team. Youtube footage – since removed by the Premier League – shows Terry appearing to mouth “Fucking black cunt” at Ferdinand during the match.
Terry admits to using the phrase but insisted he only shouted the abuse in response to an on-field allegation from Ferdinand - but the brother of Manchester United’s Rio Ferdinand says he is “stunned” by Terry's account of the controversy.
Terry argued the TV footage had missed out the full sentence and misconstrued its meaning and said he would “never do such a thing”, explaining how the pair had met up after the game to settle the matter.
Ferdinand admits he never heard Terry’s racist remarks at the time and insists the first he knew about the row – which erupted on the social networks shortly after the final whistle - was when Chelsea’s England full-back Ashley Cole came into the QPR dressing room and told Ferdinand that Terry wanted to talk to him.
A Rangers source said: "Anton went to see JT, who explained some video footage had appeared on the internet that made it look as though he had said something racist.
"JT strongly denied saying such a thing and said to Anton 'Everything's cool between us, isn't it?'
"Anton, who at that stage didn't really know what JT was talking about, said everything was fine and that there was no problem."
Moments later though, Ferdinand himself watched the footage on his mobile phone.
The QPR man told The People, a Sunday tabloid: “I didn’t know racism still existed in football until last weekend. I thought we were past all that here. I had no idea it had happened until I left the ground. It was pretty shocking. It’s crazy, I can’t believe it.
“I don’t need to say anything, it’s all on YouTube, everyone can see what he said. What do you think he said? Look, it’s with the FA now.”
A week before the Ferdinand/Terry clash, Manchester United fullback Patrice Evra made allegations of racist abuse against Uruguayan Luis Suarez in the 1-1 draw against Liverpool.
Ferdinand is reported to have “resisted the temptation” to publish a blow-by-blow account of his clash with Terry. He chose to back the FA probe into the affair.
In a statement this week, Ferdinand said: "Today, I finalised my report to the Football Association with regards to the incident that occurred last Sunday at Loftus Road in our Premier League fixture against Chelsea.
"I have very strong feelings on the matter, but in the interests of fairness and not wishing to prejudice what I am sure will be a very thorough inquiry by the FA, this will be my last comment on the subject until the inquiry is concluded."
The row has even moved to Belgium, where the notoriously powerful Chelsea media officers refused to allow questions from journalists about the race row in their press conference before the Champions League clash against Genk. Terry may be “rested” for that game as the investigation rumbles on.
Though the FA in England have led a “Kick It Out” campaign against racism over the past five years, Blackburn’s veteran striker Jason Roberts sums up the real situation in the English Premier League.
He said: "Is racial abuse something that used to happen all the time? Absolutely. In my 14-year career, I've had it numerous times. More times than I can count.
“It has certainly slowed down recently. But for people to say they can't believe this has happened, let me tell them this has happened throughout my career at all levels of the game. The battle isn't won. People still need educating.
"If it can be proven people have been doing this and it's caught on camera, they have to be punished. We cannot allow for this to be seen to be OK.
"My uncle Cyrille Regis, who played in the 70s and 80s, put up with disgusting abuse and just dealt with it like I just dealt with it.
"I think in this day and age we need to change that. It's not acceptable. Some people think they do stuff like this to put you off your game and that it's fair game. They say 'I'm not really like that, some of my best friends are black'.
"Well it's not good enough because there are kids watching and people in the crowd."
Ferdinand has since been subjected to racist abuse from Terry supporters on Twitter but he insists: "Of course, it's been strenuous — but it's football as usual as far as I'm concerned. I've been focusing on nothing other than playing for my club."
Terry lost the England captaincy before the 2010 World Cup over allegations that he had an affair with former Chelsea team-mate Wayne Bridge’s partner Vanessa Peroncel. He has also been involved in a series of controversies involving his mother – who was charged with shop-lifting along with his mother-in-law – and his father, who was caught on video by the now-defunct News of the World conducting a drugs deal.