Anton Ferdinand says he was scared to speak out during his high-profile racism case against John Terry in 2011.
The former West Ham, QPR and Sunderland defender recently opened up about the case for the first time in the BBC documentary Anton Ferdinand: Football, Racism and Me.
Then-Chelsea and England captain Terry was accused of using racist language during a Premier League match between QPR and Chelsea on October 23, 2011.
Although Terry was acquitted in a criminal case related to the incident, after it was judged it could not be proven beyond reasonable doubt the words were spoken as abuse, a Football Association independent disciplinary panel, working to a lower threshold, found him guilty. As a result, Terry was then banned for four matches and fined £220,000.
Ferdinand said his silence was in part because that was what he had been advised, but also because he was afraid of the 'whirlwind' his comments would cause.
"I didn't feel like I was the right representation of our community in terms in speaking out and I don't think that I could have at the time anyway," he said.
"I was scared to speak out and I see that now. I was scared of the whirlwind of what happened, the abuse on social media, I couldn't get away from it, it was always there.
"I felt like I just couldn't speak, not just because it would harm the court case, which was being drummed into me a lot at the time.
"I did something that I wish I hadn't done, which was I left it in the hands of the authorities and they failed me."
Ferdinand now wants to use his own experiences to mentor others who are going through the same things, but said it was important he understood exactly what those experiences were before he could do so.
"I feel like I needed to understand my journey and how I felt so I could mentor others," he said. "Because you mentor from experience, that's the best way to do it.
"So I needed to understand how it had made me feel and how I dealt with it.
"I never thought it was going to be therapeutic but it ended up being one, it brought up a lot of emotions and things that hurt me."
Terry's representatives responded to the BBC production team regarding the documentary, saying he has moved on with his life and does not want to reopen a case on television that was decided in court.
'Critical need for players to feel supported'
Edleen John, FA Director for International, Corporate Affairs & EDI, says Ferdinand's racism case against Terry has again highlighted the importance of player support from the game's governing bodies.
The belief within the governing body is that links need to be forged with anti-discrimination charity Kick It Out, the PFA and the clubs themselves to ensure players feel supported if situations similar to Ferdinand's arise again.
"The critical thing the entire football landscape, including the FA, can learn from this case is about the need for player support," John told Sky Sports News.
"Whilst obviously the FA's primary role [at the time] was to focus on investigating the case that lead to the subsequent charge of John Terry, there has been a real learning across the football family that players need to be supported when they feel they are the victims of this type of abuse.
"We are in constant contact with Kick It Out about what we need to do, alongside the PFA, to drive forward that player support in the future and how we can best support understanding the role of individual clubs because they have a duty of care to their players as their employers.
"We need to make sure they get that support about who the players can speak to and it's a real football collaboration that's needed. That's the most critical thing that we need to change in situations like this."
FA denies favouring Terry after Ferdinand documentary
The FA has denied showing favouritism to Terry during the racism investigation.
In the documentary, Anton Ferdinand criticised the FA's handling of the high-profile case, saying he "didn't feel like the victim" when speaking to investigators from the governing body.
However, the FA released a statement immediately after the programme had aired to deny any suggestion its investigation favoured the defender.
English football's governing body said it "believed in the case against Terry" and that it stripped him of the England captaincy before Euro 2012 "early in the process".
A statement read: "Believing in the case against John Terry, they (the FA's regulatory team) worked tirelessly to ensure that the case put before the disciplinary panel was robust, having appropriately recorded and challenged all relevant witness evidence, which ultimately resulted in a successful prosecution before an FA Disciplinary Panel.
"Early in the process, The FA also removed John Terry as England captain due to the seriousness of the allegations. It showed him no favouritism and made clear how serious the allegations were taken."
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