The English Football Association has charged Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand with improper conduct over allegedly racist comments about Chelsea rival Ashley Cole on Twitter.

Cole was referred to as a ''Choc Ice'' by a Twitter user and Ferdinand appeared to endorse it. The term is believed to mean black on the outside and white on the inside.

It was posted after Cole appeared as a witness during the trial of Chelsea teammate John Terry, who was accused of racially abusing Ferdinand's brother Anton during a match.

The FA says of Ferdinand's charge: ''The allegation is that the player acted in a way which was improper and/or bought the game into disrepute by making comments which included a reference to ethnic origin and/or color and/or race.''