Terry verdict: The reaction

John Terry was acquitted on Friday of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand during a match against QPR last year.

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The verdict has provoked a wave of reaction and reflection from across the game; here's our pick of the best analysis from Saturday's papers.

Much of the coverage picks up on the fact that Terry will now face an FA investigation into the incident. The Daily Telegraph's main story runs under the headline "It's only half-time", with Jason Burt suggesting that the FA have an opportunity to make a powerful statement: "The burden of proof for an FA charge is lower than in a criminal case — it is based on the balance of probabilities rather than beyond reasonable doubt. The unsavoury case, which has brought some shameful publicity to the game, could be a watershed moment."

Garth Crooks, a trustee of the Kick It Out foundation and former chairman of the PFA, also believes that the affair is far from over as he writes in The Guardian: "He’s still under investigation by the FA based on what he’s admitted - saying those words. I’m afraid for John Terry this is only half-time. This is not over.... What football fails to realise is that there is an entire generation of black players who feel the game has failed them. They will not stand for abuse, from either players or fans, any longer. If the Football Association does nothing, on the evidence it already has, then the impact on the game will reverberate for years to come."

Steven Howard in The Sun focuses on how Terry has managed to come through a huge number of scandals yet somehow his career keeps on going: "Nothing seems to touch him. He glides over ice on the road like an Olympic skater... A lot of dirty linen — some quite filthy — has been washed in public. Let's hope everyone has learned a salutary lesson. Never again, please."

The Guardian's Daniel Taylor sees the affair as evidence that football sees itself as separate from normal life: "Had it been a guy in the office, or someone in the crowd, it would have been a straightforward sacking or lifetime ban. Yet Chelsea always stuck by Terry, the man whose contribution to the club is recognised by the 'Captain, Leader, Legend' banner that permanently hangs from their Stamford Bridge ground... Never before has a court case gone into such forensic examination of what really happens during an elite-level match and when it was all laid bare the bottom line is that it was embarrassing, damaging and, very often, excruciating. Terry may consider it a victory of sorts, but the sport as a whole has suffered grievous damage."

The Independent's James Lawton takes a wider view still, claiming that, "a poison that seems to have gone into its very roots. Racism will always represent the prime target in any cleansing attempt but we know, perhaps more graphically than ever before, how much work is required before a wider decency is imposed. We are not talking about the superficiality of mere bad language but the moulding of relentless, bone-deep animosity - the idea that anything goes in the pursuit of some advantage."

Daily Mail columnist Des Kelly takes a different line, lamenting the fact that the proceedings went ahead at all given that the evidence available was clearly certain to fall short of the standard of proof required in court: "The only individual that should have faced a legal inquisition this week was the deluded soul high up in the Crown Prosecution Service who looked at the available ‘evidence’ and somehow decided this exhibition of football’s potty-mouthed, dim-witted idiocy was worth dragging into court. What a disgraceful farce it was. Scanning through each day’s account from Westminster was a sordid, asterisk-strewn game of sweary hangman. It was an embarrassment for the footballers concerned and, moreover, for the game itself."

Sun columnist Ian Wright also feels that for the good of the game the case should never have gone ahead: "This was a case without any real winners. Regardless of the magistrate’s verdict, English football had found itself in a lose-lose situation... This court case has also been an experience for both Terry and Anton — and not a good one. The only people who did actually benefit were the lawyers as they will be laughing all the way to the bank."

Finally, former Chelsea star Paul Elliott, an ambassador for Kick It Out, was dismayed to see the issue arise but hopes that something positive can come out of it: "I was a player that was engaged in the ugliness of the late Seventies and early Eighties and it’s regrettable that in the 21st century we’re here actually discussing these issues... There's big challenges ahead, there's no doubt about that. I think it's important the footballing family embraces that, works collectively, educates people and puts in a lot of resources to ensure the fight continues."

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