ASHLEY Cole is facing an unprecedented Twitter fine after being being charged with misconduct by the Football Association over his foul-mouthed
attack on the governing body.
• Chelsea and England full-back charged over tweet directed at FA in wake of John Terry ruling
The Chelsea and England left-back was bracing himself for the double-whammy of seeing his wages docked by his club and being forced to top up the coffers of the FA, all for dubbing the latter a “bunch of t***ts”.
Being fined two weeks’ pay by the Blues would reportedly cost Cole around £240,000, with an FA punishment potentially pushing the total over a quarter of a million pounds, thought to be the biggest ever in football for a social-media offence.
That would leave the 31-year-old even more out of pocket than Chelsea team-mate John Terry if the latter does not appeal his guilty verdict in his FA racist abuse case and forks out £220,000.
It was the written judgment following that hearing which sparked Cole’s Twitter tirade, after an independent FA regulatory commission cast doubt on evidence he provided in support of Terry.
The FA said in a statement on its website yesterday: “Chelsea FC’s Ashley Cole has been charged by The FA in relation to a Twitter comment which was improper and/or brought the game into disrepute.”
Cole was given until 4pm on Thursday to respond to the charge, the timing far from ideal given the deadline is barely 24 hours before England’s World Cup qualifier with San Marino at Wembley.
It is not thought there is any threat to Cole’s chances of winning his 99th cap on Friday, beyond the fact manager Roy Hodgson may elect to rest him ahead of the crucial trip to Poland four days later.
Cole reported for duty at the FA’s new St George’s Park complex in Burton along with the rest of his team-mates yesterday lunchtime.
Whilst the FA does have disciplinary jurisdiction to suspend Cole if it wished, in instances of this nature they are far more likely to hit the defender with a fine rather than banning him for the San Marino game, despite former England captain Alan Shearer calling for them to do so.
Cole responded to Shearer by retweeting a comment referencing an incident in a game in 1998 when the former forward’s boot made contact with Neil Lennon’s face but was found by the FA to have made a “genuine attempt to free himself” from a tangle.
Cole retweeted a post from @CollinR4 which read: “Alan Shearer says @TheRealAC3 needs to be banned for comments. I want his opinion on bans for kicking Neil Lennon in the head. £GlassHouses.”
Cole will be part of the England squad that assemble at St George’s Park for the official opening today by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo confirmed on Saturday that the left-back would be
punished by his club for the tweet.
The Italian later added: “The image of the club is very important to us of course.
“We have rules and anybody who breaks the rules faces disciplinary action against them.
“We strive to have high standards and hopefully, going forward, we can be better at showing those.”
Cole’s initial tweet came in response to the written reasons from the independent FA panel, which banned Terry for four matches for racially abusing QPR defender Anton Ferdinand.
Cole had backed up his team-mate and said he thought Ferdinand may have used the word “black” during a verbal exchange with Terry.
However, according to the panel, Cole did not mention the word in the initial interview with the FA on 28 October last year.
On 3 November, Chelsea club secretary David Barnard asked the FA for the word to be inserted into Cole’s witness statement, suggesting the left-back may have heard Ferdinand use the term.
Cole issued an unreserved apology for the tweet on Friday afternoon, but not before it had been retweeted more than 19,000 times.