Sunday 17 November 2019

Ashley Cole apologises for foul-mouthed tweet in FA racism row

Ashley Cole: called English FA a 'bunch of t****' on Twitter
Ashley Cole: called English FA a 'bunch of t****' on Twitter
John Terry and Ashley Cole

Martyn Ziegler

ASHLEY Cole apologised unreservedly for his foul-mouthed outburst at the FA over his role in the John Terry racism case.

The independent FA regulatory commission said there were discrepancies in Cole's initial statement to FA interviewers of what he heard Anton Ferdinand say to Terry compared to a later statement.

Cole responded on his official Twitter account saying: "Hahahahaa, well done #fa I lied did I, #BUNCHOFTWATS"."

It was re-tweeted more than 19,000 times before he deleted it.

In a statement this afternoon, Cole said: "I had just finished training and saw the captions on the TV screens in the treatment rooms about what was said in the FA Commission ruling about me.

"I was really upset and tweeted my feelings in the heat of the moment. I apologise unreservedly for my comment about the FA."

Cole, who has 98 caps for England, put a question mark over his future with the national team after his Twitter outburst.

The FA has not responded but it is understood Cole has no intention of calling time on his England career - he is in the squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Poland.

The Chelsea and England full-back's evidence proved crucial to Terry in his acquittal at Westminster Magistrates Court in July, but the FA commission last week banned Terry for four matches for racially abusing Ferdinand.

News of Cole's tweet broke in the middle of Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo's pre-match press conference and the normally unflappable Italian for once appeared flustered.

Di Matteo responded, saying: "We'll look at the tweet and then we'll see. Apart from this, I don't think the players are out of control."

Cole could face disciplinary action from the FA, who have yet to respond, and from Chelsea for breaching the club's social media policy.

A Chelsea spokesman admitted the tweet had not been appropriate and added: "We would prefer that everyone takes the club's lead on this issue and holds any comment they have until an appropriate time and that would be when we find out if there's going to be an appeal process."

Cole's involvement surrounded Terry's claim that he had only been repeating the words "f****** black c***" that he thought Ferdinand had accused him of saying.

Cole backed up his team-mate and said he thought Ferdinand may have used the word 'black' during a verbal exchange with Terry.

But according to the FA commission's written reasons published today, Cole did not mention the word 'black' in the initial interview with the FA on October 28.

On November 3, Chelsea club secretary David Barnard asked the FA for the specific word 'black' to be inserted into Cole's witness statement, suggesting that Cole may have heard Ferdinand use the term.

The commission saw an email exchange between the FA and Barnard and said that should be regarded as "cogent new evidence".

Chelsea said Cole did not accept the criticism made of him by the commission.

A club statement said: "Ashley co-operated at all times with the FA and stands by the evidence that he gave and does not accept the criticism that has been made."

Chelsea added that they stand by Barnard completely and that he acted with complete integrity throughout the process.

"David co-operated fully with the FA at all times. He stands by his evidence and does not accept the criticism that has been made," the statement continued.

"It should also be noted that David was not given the opportunity to give oral evidence to the commission, so we feel any criticism is unjustified."

After Terry was cleared in Westminster Magistrates Court in July, Rio Ferdinand appeared to endorse a tweet describing Cole, who also gave evidence in Terry's defence in court, as a 'choc ice' - a slang term suggesting someone is black on the outside and white on the inside.

Ferdinand tweeted: 'I hear you fella! Choc ice is classic hahahahahaha!!'

The Manchester United defender was fined £45,000 by the FA over the tweet, for improper conduct.

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