FA aiming to resolve Rio Ferdinand improper conduct charge before start of Premier League season

 

The Football Association will aim to wrap up Rio Ferdinand's improper conduct charge before the new Premier League season is launched on August 18.

After being charged on Monday, the Manchester United defender has confirmed his intention to contest it at a personal hearing.

With United due to embark on the second stage of their pre-season tour at the weekend, timings are tight.

But as Ferdinand is unlikely to be selected for England's friendly against Italy in Berne on August 15, there is time available - which would at least allow the FA to close one side aspect of John Terry's altercation with Anton Ferdinand.

In this instance, it was the United man's response to a tweet that characterised Chelsea defender Ashley Cole, who was a defence witness as Terry was acquitted in his racism trial, as a "choc-ice".

The term is slang to mean "black on the outside, white on the inside", and was a reference to Cole's testimony in court, in which he said he never heard Terry make a racist remark to Anton Ferdinand during the match in question at Loftus Road in October.

"Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand has today denied an FA charge of improper conduct in relation to comments posted on Twitter," confirmed the FA in a statement.

"The allegation is that the player acted in a way which was improper and/or brought the game into disrepute by making comments which included a reference to ethnic origin and/or colour and/or race."

Earlier this week, FA chairman David Bernstein declared his intention to get tough with any action that brought the game into disrepute, making specific reference to postings on Twitter.

However, at the same Wembley conference, influential Kick it Out anti-racism campaigner Lord Ousley said he was surprised Ferdinand had been charged because he had not instigated the Twitter conversation in the first place.

It is expected this would be a major component of Ferdinand's defence.

Precedent suggests Ferdinand is not thought to be at risk of an early season suspension.

Earlier this year, the 33-year-old's Manchester United team-mate Federico Macheda was fined £15,000 and warned about his future conduct after posting a homophobic Tweet.

And this week, Arsenal's Emmanuel Frimpong was fined £6,000 for an anti-Semitic Tweet.

PA

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