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Australia’s Sam Kerr pleads not guilty to racially aggravated offence



Chelsea striker Kerr was charged with harassment of a police officer in an incident in London last year and faces trial in February 2025.

Australian football captain Sam Kerr has pleaded not guilty to racially aggravated harassment of a police officer in London more than a year ago, but will face trial on the charges, prosecutors in the United Kingdom have said.

The 30-year-old striker, who plays club football for Chelsea in London, was charged with causing a police officer harassment, alarm or distress during an incident in Twickenham, southwest London, on January 30 last year, according to the Crown Prosecution Service.

“The charge relates to an incident involving a police officer who was responding to a complaint involving a taxi fare on 30 January 2023 in Twickenham,” the Metropolitan Police said in a statement on Monday.

Kerr, one of the world’s most recognisable female footballers and a sporting idol in her home nation, was charged on January 21, almost a year after the incident was alleged to have occurred.

The Chelsea forward, who on the day before the incident scored a hat-trick against Liverpool in the FA Cup at Chelsea women’s home ground Kingsmeadow, is due to appear in court in February next year.

The 30-year-old pleaded not guilty via video link at Kingston Crown Court on Monday, British media reported.

Kerr denied the charge at a plea and trial preparation hearing at Kingston upon Thames Crown Court on Monday, the PA news agency reported.

Chelsea have not commented on the reported incident.

Football Australia CEO James Johnson and women’s national team coach Tony Gustavsson told Australian media they had only been made aware of the charges against Kerr on Tuesday morning.

Johnson said he had sent a message to Kerr to check in on her welfare but had not had a conversation with her about it.

“We’re trying to get to the bottom of it. We have our own questions we would like to know,” Johnson said during a press conference in Adelaide.

“There is a process that is under way and that process needs to run its course.

“I don’t want to get into the allegations. They are serious allegations. At the same time, Sam has rights – natural justice rights, procedural rights – that she has to work her way through and we respect that.”

Gustavsson said he could not comment on the charges and referred to an earlier statement from Football Australia.

“The only thing I can comment on is my experience and interaction with Sam as a person and as a footballer,” he said, “and I have only positive experience with that.”

In an earlier statement issued after media reports started emerging from Britain, Football Australia (FA) said it was aware of the proceedings involving Kerr but was unable to comment on the ongoing legal matter.

“Our focus remains on supporting all our players, both on and off the field,” FA said in a statement. “We will continue to monitor the situation and provide support as appropriate.”

Kerr is currently sidelined after an anterior cruciate ligament injury during a warm-weather training camp with the Chelsea women’s team in Morocco in January.

Revered by Australian football fans, Kerr’s global celebrity helped bring the women’s game into the mainstream and drive a major increase in corporate sponsorship for the national Matildas team, who reached the Women’s World Cup semifinals on home soil last year.

Kerr battled a calf injury that ruled her out of much of the action but returned later in the tournament and scored a wonder goal in the semifinal against England.

Last May, she led the Australian delegation as flag-bearer at King Charles’s coronation at Westminster Abbey.

She is the country’s all-time leading scorer in international football with 69 goals from 128 games. The forward has scored 58 goals for Chelsea in the WSL since 2020.

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