London: Chelsea and England soccer captain John Terry pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to a charge of racially abusing opponent Anton Ferdinand during a Premier League match in October.
Lawyer George Carter-Stephenson spoke on behalf of defender Terry who did not attend the hearing at London's Westminster Magistrates Court.
In December, Britain's Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) ordered Terry to be prosecuted for a "racially aggravated public order offence" over comments allegedly made to Ferdinand in an on-field exchange during Chelsea's 1-0 defeat by Queens Park Rangers.
The CPS took action after video of the incident was posted on the internet and a member of the public complained that Terry had used allegedly racist language when speaking to Ferdinand.
Terry could be fined up to 2,500 pounds if convicted, only a fraction of his weekly wage. However, such a verdict could have an impact on his lucrative sponsorship deals and relationship with Chelsea team mates drawn from around the globe.
Allegations of racial abuse have cast a shadow over the Premier League this season. Liverpool's Luis Suarez was banned for eight matches for racially abusing Manchester United's Patrice Evra during a match in October in a case dealt with by the football authorities.
Chelsea Football Club has stood by Terry, who as the long-serving club captain is adored by the Blues fans for his footballing commitment and passion on the pitch.
Terry missed Chelsea's 1-1 draw with Swansea on the eve of the court case with a knee injury. Coach Andres Villas-Boas said on Monday he would consider giving Terry time away from his football commitments to clear his name if it was needed.
Allegations against the England captain come at an awkward time with just over four months left until the Euro 2012 championship begins in June.
Until recently, Terry was expected to form England's central defensive partnership with Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand, the older brother of QPR defender Anton.
"I will fight tooth and nail to prove my innocence," Terry said in December after the CPS announced plans to prosecute him.