Cole faces punishments from both club and FA for his angry tweet
Chelsea set to fine full-back £200,000 and FA charge seems certain, but fans back him and John Terry
Ashley Cole can expect to face sanctions from both Chelsea and the Football Association for referring to the FA as " a bunch of twats" in a tweet on Friday.
Roberto Di Matteo, the Chelsea manager, confirmed after Chelsea beat Norwich City to retain the leadership of the Premier League yesterday, that Cole faces internal disciplinary action which could include a fine of two weeks' wages (around £200,000), the maximum allowed by the Professional Footballers' Association.
"We've got a social media policy in the club and there's going to be disciplinary action against the tweet and that's how I leave it," Di Matteo said. "I did speak to Ashley, but you'll understand it was a private conversation. We did speak about the tweet and you saw his reaction yesterday [Friday]. He apologised unreservedly.
"I'm in favour of social media. If they are used with responsibility they are a good way to communicate. But if they breach a rule there are going to be consequences."
Cole also seems certain to face disciplinary action from the Football Association in the latest chapter of the long saga that began with Terry abusing Anton Ferdinand a year ago this month. In August Ferdinand's brother Rio was fined £45,000 for retweeting a description of Cole, who has supported Terry throughout, as a "choc ice"; a perceived reference to being one colour on the outside and another inside.
Cole has been told that he will not be dropped from the forthcoming England games against San Marino and Poland, in which he is due to reach 100 caps. He was spoken to on Friday night by the manager Roy Hodgson, who only the day before had fulsomely praised his achievement and ability.
Terry retained the Chelsea captain's armband for yesterday's match at Stamford Bridge, where supporters were firmly behind both players, giving Terry the biggest cheer when the teams were read out and singing early in the match that Cole "will tweet what he wants". Later they struck up a chant of "John Terry and Ashley Cole" in case there was any doubt about where their sympathies lay.
Chelsea are understood to have told Terry they want to know by Wednesday whether or not he intends appealing against his four-match domestic ban, which will otherwise mean missing matches against Tottenham, Manchester United (in the League and Capital One Cup) and Swansea.
Cole can now look forward to England's game on Friday.
Speaking before his ill-advised tweet, Hodgson said: "For an outfield player, a left-back, to reach 100 caps is incredible. He has done it with consistency and there is no reason why he cannot set his sights higher. I must say it is an achievement we shouldn't be underestimating and if people are going to praise his achievement it is something I would endorse. Top names, legends of the past, it must be great to know you are joining that. We don't have that Major League Baseball Hall Of Fame in England like they do in America but in those terms these people are our Hall Of Famers and Ashley will join that group."
Taken by surprise to be asked if Cole might be made captain for his 100th game, which is due to be in Warsaw on Tuesday week, Hodgson replied: "It is certainly worthy of consideration." The intention, however, was always that Steven Gerrard, who is suspended for the San Marino game on Friday (when Frank Lampard is likely to be captain if he recovers from a knee injury that forced him off yesterday) will take the armband back against Poland.
Cole, who has a dislike of media duties, has never come across as a natural captain at any level and Hodgson said: "Every player has the right to be true to their own feelings, and his is that he will do his talking on the field; 'I don't want to give lots of interviews, I want to be judged as a pure footballer'. I for one respect that wholeheartedly and have found him to be an excellent professional and a very, very enthusiastic and important member of the group and I'm looking forward to working with him for a period of time to come."
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