London: Chelsea and England football captain John Terry will face criminal charges for racially abusing Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand, England`s Crown Prosecution Service said today.
Terry has been ordered to appear in a magistrates court on February 1 over the incident in a Premier League match in October.
Alison 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."
She added: "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."
After the allegation was made, Terry issued a statement saying he was "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," he added. Chelsea have been steadfast in support of Terry and ahead of the CPS decision, manager Andre Villas-Boas said Wednesday: "The only thing I know is that I will be fully supportive of John Terry, whatever the outcome.”
"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."
The decision to press charges came a day before Chelsea, fourth in the table, travel to third-placed Tottenham for a highly anticipated London derby in which Terry is expected to play.
The CPS decision regarding Terry came a day after England`s Football Association handed Liverpool striker Luis Suarez an eight game-ban for racially abusing Manchester United`s Patrice Evra during a league match in October.