LONDON – John Terry apologized Thursday for using inappropriate language during an on-field confrontation and will accept a four-match ban for racially abusing an opponent during a Premier League game.
The Chelsea defender was suspended by the Football Association for abusing Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand in a match last October.
"I want to take this opportunity to apologize to everyone for the language I used in the game against Queens Park Rangers last October," Terry said in a statement. "Although I'm disappointed with the FA judgment, I accept that the language I used, regardless of the context, is not acceptable on the football field or indeed in any walk of life."
Terry has always claimed he only repeated the obscene phrase he was accused of saying.
Terry was cleared in a criminal trial in July of a racially aggravated public order offense but was found guilty by the FA on a lesser burden of proof, with the governing body's disciplinary panel finding his defense "improbable, implausible and contrived."
The ban was half the length of that given to Liverpool striker Luis Suarez for racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra during another Premier League match last October. Terry also was fined a record $356,000 by FA.
Having retired from England in protest at the FA's pursuit of the high-profile case and having lost the national team captaincy, Terry had the recent two-week international break to consider his next step with lawyers.
"After careful consideration, I have decided not to appeal against the FA judgment," Terry said. "My response was below the level expected by Chelsea Football Club, and by me, and it will not happen again."
Chelsea wouldn't reveal what sanctions the club had taken against Terry, saying the "confidential" disciplinary action is "in accordance with our long-standing policy."
"Chelsea Football Club believes John Terry has made the correct decision by not appealing against the FA judgment relating to language he used at the QPR match last October," a club statement read. "Chelsea also appreciates and supports John's full apology for the language he used. The club firmly believes such language is not acceptable and fell below the standards expected of John as a Chelsea player."
His suspension will start immediately, meaning he misses Premier League games against Tottenham, Manchester United and Swansea, as well as a League Cup fourth-round match against United.
If Terry is wearing the captain's armband when he returns to action — he will be available domestically for Chelsea's league match against Liverpool on Nov. 11 — then the club is likely to have only punished him with a fine.
Chelsea, which has stood by Terry throughout the feud, has a policy of banning fans for life if they are found guilty of racial abuse.
"Looking forward, I will continue to do my part in assisting the club to remove all types of discriminatory behavior from football," Terry said. "I am extremely grateful for the consistent support of Chelsea FC, the fans and my family."