LONDON, England (AFP) — Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand was fined £45,000 ($70,000, €57,000) by the Football Association yesterday for improper conduct over comments he made on Twitter relating to the John Terry racism trial.
Chelsea captain Terry was found not guilty last month of racially abusing QPR defender Anton Ferdinand, Rio’s brother, during a Premier League game on October 23 last year, although he is also now contesting a FA charge over the same incident.
During the trial, Ferdinand appeared to endorse a tweet by another user of the micro-blogging website which described Chelsea defender Ashley Cole, who gave evidence on behalf of Terry in the trial, as a “choc ice”.
The term is understood to mean someone who is black on the outside but white on the inside.
The FA felt Ferdinand’s support for the controversial tweet brought the game into disrepute and the 33-year-old was given his punishment yesterday.
“Manchester United’s Rio Ferdinand has been fined 45,000 after an independent regulatory commission found proven a charge of improper conduct in relation to a comment posted on Twitter,” an FA statement read.
“The commission decided that the comment was improper and brought the game into disrepute. In addition, the commission found that the breach included a reference to ethnic origin, colour or race.”
Cole, who also told the court he was a long-standing friend of the Ferdinand brothers, was accused by one person who sent a tweet to Rio Ferdinand of being a “choc ice”.
The person wrote: “Looks like Ashley Cole’s going to be their choc ice. Then again he’s always been a sell out. Shame on him.”
Manchester United defender Rio, who has played with Terry at the heart of England’s defence, replied: “I hear you fella! Choc ice is classic! hahahahahahha!!”
Users began discussing the comments and reacting to them and Ferdinand wrote: “And if I want to laugh at something someone tweets... I will! Hahahahaha! Now stop getting ya knickers in a twist!”
United boss Sir Alex Ferguson believes Ferdinand’s punishment highlights the danger of star players using Twitter.
Ferguson revealed United’s squad are banned from talking about the club and he warned that players who let off steam on the Internet are asking for trouble from the FA.
“It was almost certain to happen,” he said of Ferdinand’s fine. “They (the FA) want to close the door on this kind of thing.
“What surprises me is that other players have been tweeting for ages and have never been challenged by the FA.
“I don’t know why anybody can be bothered with Twitter. But it is there and as a club we have given instructions to the players that they cannot talk about Manchester United.
“Rio is mature but he still has to remember that one word can make a difference — and you can’t take it back.”