Police step up Terry investigation

Formal probe into racism claims against England captain as Chelsea fans abuse Anton Ferdinand

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The Independent Football

John Terry's situation became even more serious last night when the Metropolitan Police announced they had launched a formal investigation into allegations he racially abused Anton Ferdinand during Chelsea's game against Queen's Park Rangers 10 days' ago.

It means that it will be difficult for the Football Association to permit Fabio Capello to select the player on Sunday when he names his England squad for the national team's two friendlies this month if Terry has not been cleared by the police investigation by then. Although the FA is working on the basis that Terry is innocent until proven guilty, it will be hard for them to go into the games against Spain and Sweden with so much hanging over their captain.

The FA is hopeful that the police will have decided whether or not to charge Terry with an offence by then. Their own investigation has in effect been superseded by the police enquiry. If Terry is charged then there is no chance of him being included in the squad for the friendly against Spain a week on Saturday and the Sweden game three days' later.

A spokesman for the FA said last night: "Further to an allegation from the recent QPR versus Chelsea fixture, the F A has been formally investigating the matter. The Metropolitan Police has contacted the FA to make us further aware of their investigation into the matter.

"Due to this it would be inappropriate for the FA to comment until the police have completed their own enquiries."

An element of the Chelsea support brought shame on themselves last night by singing a derogatory chant about Anton Ferdinand during the club's Champions League game against Genk in Belgium. A club spokesman condemned the behaviour of those supporters who sang: "We know what you are, Anton Ferdinand, we know what you are."

A Chelsea spokesman said that the chant was "wholly inappropriate". In the past the FA has suspended players from international duty when they have become the subject of police investigations, as was the case with Alan Smith in 2003 when he threw a bottle into the crowd during a Leeds United game. Having joined up for an England squad to play Denmark after his arrest and questioning, he was then sent home.

Capello has moved to appease Premier League clubs over the international break next week by telling his England players that they do not have to report for duty until three days before the game against Spain.

Instead of meeting up on Monday, Capello has agreed that the players can have an extra two days off. That means they will meet up at the Grove Hotel in Hertfordshire next Wednesday night, leaving Capello two days to prepare for the visit of the world champions.