The Manchester United player was seeking substantial damages from MGN Ltd for misuse of private information.
The case was over an April 2010 Sunday Mirror article in which Carly Storey gave her account of their alleged relationship in return for £16,000.
Rio Ferdinand, 32, is marrried to Rebecca and they have three children.
The case hinged on whether the newspaper was justified in publishing its story because the public interest was such that its Article 10 right to freedom of expression was of a greater importance than Ferdinand’s Article 8 privacy right under the Human Rights Act.
Ferdinand had branded the article – My Affair with England Captain Rio – a “gross invasion of my privacy” and said he had not seen Ms Storey for six years by the time it appeared.
MGN said it was in the public interest to run the story about Ferdinand, who replaced John Terry as England captain in February 2010 after stories about Terry’s alleged affairs emerged.
The story said Ferdinand ended the alleged relationship within days of being handed the captain’s armband.
Mirror lawyer Marcus Partington: “If you are a public figure and create a false public image… then the press should be entitled to enter into that debate”
Its counsel, Gavin Millar QC, said Ferdinand was appointed England captain on the basis of being reformed and responsible. In fact, as the article said, this was not the case, he said.
He argued that the case was not really about Ferdinand’s privacy but about the effect on the public image he had constructed, and was without merit.
In court, the judge, Mr Justice Nicol, said: “Overall, in my judgement, the balancing exercise favours the defendant’s right of freedom of expression over the claimant’s right of privacy.”
Of the England captaincy, he said: “It was a job that carried with it an expectation of high standards. In the views of many the captain was expected to maintain those standards off, as well as on, the pitch.”
The judge refused Ferdinand permission to appeal, although he can renew his application directly to the Court of Appeal.
Ferdinand now faces a costs bill unofficially estimated at about £500,000, with £100,000 to be paid to MGN within 14 days on account of its £161,000 costs.