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Sam Kerr: Chelsea striker pleads not guilty to racially aggravated offence

Sam Kerr: Chelsea striker pleads not guilty to racially aggravated offence

Sam Kerr: Chelsea striker pleads not guilty to racially aggravated offence

Chelsea striker and Matildas captain Sam Kerr is set to face trial after being charged with racially aggravated harassment of a London police officer.

The 30-year-old Australia international pleaded not guilty to the offence at a court hearing on Monday, the Crown Prosecution Service said.

Kerr is scheduled to appear at Wimbledon Magistrates Court on 1 February 2025.

It follows an alleged incident in January 2023.

"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," a Metropolitan Police spokesperson said.

She was charged on 21 January "with a racially aggravated offence under Section 4A [of the] Public Order Act 1986", they added.

However Kerr denied the charge at a plea and trial preparation hearing at Kingston upon Thames Crown Court on Monday.

The striker is currently sidelined after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury at the club's warm weather training camp in Morocco in January.

She has scored 99 goals in 128 matches since joining Chelsea in 2019, and is her country's all-time record goalscorer with 64 goals in 125 games.

Speaking to media in Adelaide on Tuesday, Football Australia chief executive James Johnson said the federation had learned of the "very serious allegations" in the news that morning.

"There is no place for racism in our sport," he said.

"At the same time Sam has rights, natural justice rights, procedural rights that she has to work through and we will respect that."

Asked if Kerr - arguably Australia's biggest sports star - should be stood down as the national team's captain until the court case has played out, Mr Johnson said the governing body needed to "establish the facts" before deciding its "next step".

"We are trying to get to the bottom of it at the moment... we've got to find out what actually happened."

"I haven't spoken to Sam other than a text message to check in on her wellbeing."

Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson told reporters in Sydney that he was "surprised" by the allegations but couldn't say anything further.

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

During her time at Chelsea, Kerr has won four WSL titles, three FA Cups, two Women's League Cups and the Women's Community Shield.

She has also been nominated for the Ballon d'Or Féminin - the top prize in women's football - ever year since its inception in 2018, placing second last year.