England soccer captain John Terry will face criminal charges after a police probe into a complaint he racially abused Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand during an Oct. 23 Premier League match, prosecutors said today.
The Chelsea player is scheduled to appear in court Feb. 1, the prosecutor said today in an e-mailed statement. Terry said he will prove his innocence.
Terry is also subject of an investigation by the Football Association, which yesterday banned Liverpool forward Luis Suarez for 8 matches and fined the Uruguayan 40,000 pounds ($63,700) after finding him guilty of racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra.
“I have today advised the Metropolitan Police Service that John Terry should be prosecuted for a racially aggravated public order offence following comments allegedly made during a Premier League football match,” Alison Saunders, chief crown prosecutor for London, said in the statement. “I am satisfied there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction and it is in the public interest to prosecute this case.”
Chelsea lost 1-0 in the game at Loftus Road. Terry said afterward that he had spoken with Ferdinand and that “it was all a misunderstanding at the time.”
Video showed Terry and Ferdinand’s exchanges during the game. The Chelsea defender said later that he was trying to explain to Ferdinand that he hadn’t used offending words toward him.
“I am disappointed with the decision to charge me and hope to be given the chance to clear my name as quickly as possible,” Terry said in a statement. “I have never aimed a racist remark at anyone and count people from all races and creeds among my closest friends. I will fight tooth and nail to prove my innocence. I have campaigned against racism and believe there is no place for it in society.”
Chelsea said it would support its captain.
“John has made it clear he denies the charge and is determined to do all he can to prove his innocence,” the west London club said on its website. “Chelsea F.C. has always been fully supportive of John in this matter and there is no question that we will continue to be so.”
Terry faces a maximum fine of 2,500 pounds ($3,919) if convicted of the offense.