Monday 19 March 2018

Ashley Cole free to play for England after personal apology to FA chief

Ashley Cole
Ashley Cole

Mike Collett

ASHLEY Cole has apologised to FA chairman David Bernstein for a Twitter insult he aimed at the association last week, clearing the way for the Chelsea defender free to play for England against San Marino on Friday.

Whether or not he earns his 99th cap in the World Cup qualifier at Wembley is up to coach Roy Hodgson but Bernstein confirmed this morning that Cole was free for selection after he received a personal apology.

The FA charged the 31-year-old with misconduct yesterday following Cole's offensive tweet after the governing body's independent commission had queried what they described as his "evolving" evidence in the John Terry racial abuse verdict.

Terry was found guilty of racially insulting Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand and banned for four matches. Cole gave evidence on his Chelsea team mate's behalf.

Cole deleted the tweet a few hours after it was posted on Friday.

Bernstein, speaking to BBC radio before the official opening of England's new national coaching centre at St George's Park in Burton, revealed that Cole had followed his apology to the FA on Friday with a personal apology to the chairman.

"He apologised immediately on Friday and he came to see me last night and apologised to me personally," Bernstein said.

"He showed real contrition. He said he was really sorry. He is free to play for England over the coming matches. It is up to the manager to decide whether he plays or not."

Cole has until 4pm on Thursday to respond to the FA charge, that deadline falling just over 24 hours before the England match. He is also facing disciplinary action from his club.

Despite his apology, Hodgson may decide to rest Cole for the San Marino game to keep him fresh for the tougher qualifier against Poland in Warsaw next week.

Bernstein was convinced Cole's apology was heart-felt.

He said "It was a serious apology. He expressed a degree of remorse for what he had done, wished it hadn't happened.

"I looked him in the eye and really felt that he meant it."

Bernstein admitted, though, that the Chelsea full-back's actions meant he was unlikely to captain England for what could be his 100th cap against Poland next Tuesday.

Asked about the possibility of Cole being given the armband to mark the occasion, Bernstein said: "To be absolutely honest I doubt it. We've expressed a view on what we need with regard to a captain and I doubt it, but we'll see.

"We've had issues and we've stated publicly many times that we have a very high level of behaviour and so on and so forth required from an English captain."

Bernstein also revealed the FA will not appeal the punishment handed to Terry by the independent regulatory commission.

"The FA I believe will not be appealing it," he said. "But the thing is still under possible appeal therefore I do not want to talk about the John Terry thing at all.

"It's not over yet and John Terry has a right of appeal himself."

In response to the Cole saga, FA general secretary Alex Horne revealed the organisation were looking at social media to be part of the code of conduct.

He said: "The issues of social media are multiple, very personal. You take personal responsibility for what you put out.

"Tweeting is effectively like me talking to you and millions of people and they need to understand that and I think they do.

"The clubs and England need to help them as much as possible with reiterating guidelines and reiterating terms of think before you tweet...but we are not going to over-labour it.

"There is a policy in place across the FA, there are lines and if you cross them we will charge you. The clubs have their own policies in place.

"We as England will look towards including something on social media in a code of conduct."

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