England skipper John Terry has vowed to clear his name after being charged with racially abusing Queens Park Rangers player Anton Ferdinand.
The Crown Prosecution Service have confirmed their intention to prosecute Terry over remarks he made during an altercation with Ferdinand during a match at Loftus Road in October.
"I am disappointed with the decision to charge me and hope to be given the chance to clear my name as quickly as possible," said Terry on Wednesday.
Terry has denied calling Ferdinand a "black ****" during a Barclays Premier League match at Loftus Road on October 23.
But in a statement, Alison Saunders, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said she had told Scotland Yard he should be prosecuted for "a racially aggravated public order offence".
Ms Saunders, Chief Crown Prosecutor for London said: "I have today advised the Metropolitan Police Service that John Terry should be prosecuted for a racially aggravated public order offence following comments allegedly made during a Premier League football match between Queens Park Rangers and Chelsea on 23 October, 2011.
"The decision was taken in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors and after careful consideration of all the evidence I am satisfied there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction and it is in the public interest to prosecute this case.
"Mr Terry will appear before West London Magistrates' Court on 1 February, 2012.
"He is now summonsed with a criminal offence and has the right to a fair trial. It is extremely important that nothing should be reported which could prejudice his trial."
Terry's future as a leading international player will be thrown into doubt by a potential trial.
He is one of the most decorated English players in the modern domestic game, having led his west London club to a string of trophies and league titles.
Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas pledged his support to the defender shortly before the CPS made its announcement.
"The only thing I know is that I will be fully supportive of John Terry, whatever the outcome," he said.
"He has my full support, he has the club's full support. We know exactly his human values and personality. They are never in doubt."
After the news that Terry would be charged broke the club issued a statement which read: "Chelsea Football Club today received notification that the Crown Prosecution Service has charged John Terry with a racially aggravated public order offence.
"John has made it clear he denies the charge and is determined to do all he can to prove his innocence.
"Chelsea FC has always been fully supportive of John in this matter and will continue to be so.
"The club finds all forms of discrimination abhorrent and we are proud of the work we undertake campaigning on this important issue.
"Chelsea will not be commenting further on the subject while the legal process runs its course."
Videos of the alleged incident were circulated on the internet in the aftermath of the game.
Lawyers had asked police for more information regarding the incident before making their decision.
New evidence, featuring previously unseen footage from TV cameras, was handed to the CPS last week.
Terry, who has been absent from training with Chelsea in recent days after suffering an Achilles problem, has been included in the playing squad for the club's next game, a London derby against Tottenham on Thursday night.
Shortly after the allegations were made, Terry issued a statement saying: "I've seen that there's a lot of comments on the internet with regards to some video footage of me during the game.
"I'm disappointed that people have leapt to the wrong conclusions about the context of what I was seen to be saying to Anton Ferdinand.
"I would never say such a thing, and I'm saddened that people would think so."
Campaigners have launched lengthy battles to rid football of racism, which plagued the game during the 1980s.