LONDON (AP) – Chelsea captain John Terry will be charged with racially abusing a Premier League opponent and faces a fine of $3,920.
The Crown Prosecution Service said Wednesday that there was sufficient evidence to prosecute Terry for his on-field exchange with Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand on Oct. 23. Ferdinand is black.
The 31-year-old England captain faces a charge of using ''threatening, abusive or insulting words or behavior, or disorderly behavior within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress which was racially aggravated.''
Terry's initial hearing will be at West London Magistrates' Court on Feb. 1. The maximum sentence for the offense is a fine of $3,920.
The CPS announcement followed almost two months of public scrutiny of the incident that was captured by TV cameras. The police investigation began after a complaint by a member of the public.
''I have today advised the Metropolitan Police Service that John Terry should be prosecuted for a racially aggravated public order offense following comments allegedly made during a Premier League football match between Queen's Park Rangers and Chelsea,'' said Alison Saunders, the chief crown prosecutor for London. ''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.''
Terry has claimed he was repeating an accusation he felt had wrongly been made by Ferdinand.
''I am disappointed with the decision to charge me and hope to be given the chance to clear my name as quickly as possible,'' Terry said. ''I have never aimed a racist remark at anyone and count people from all races and creeds among my closest friends.
''I will fight tooth and nail to prove my innocence. I have campaigned against racism and believe there is no place for it in society.''
Chelsea said it would support Terry.
''Chelsea FC has always been fully supportive of John in this matter and will continue to be so,'' the club said in a statement. ''The club finds all forms of discrimination abhorrent and we are proud of the work we undertake campaigning on this important issue.''
A Football Association investigation into the incident has been put on hold until the criminal case concludes.
On Tuesday, the FA handed Liverpool striker Luis Suarez an eight-match ban and a $62,000 fine after being found guilty of racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra during a match in October. That incident has not been investigated by police in Liverpool.
Rob Harris can be reached at www.twitter.com/RobHarrisUK