Fresh details emerge in Sam Kerr racial harassment charge

Football Australia blindsided by Sam Kerr charge

Source: AAP

Matildas captain Sam Kerr is to face trial in England after pleading not guilty to the racially aggravated harassment of a police officer.

The Western Australian, who plays for Chelsea in London, appeared in court in the British capital on Monday accused of using insulting, threatening or abusive words that caused alarm or distress to a British constable.

The alleged incident happened on January 30 last year in Twickenham but it’s been reported Kerr did not receive a summons until January this year.

Football Australia bosses confirmed on Tuesday (AEDT) that they knew nothing of the allegations before news broke of Kerr’s court appearance.

She appeared at Kingston Crown Court via videolink, spoke only to confirm her identity and to enter a not guilty plea to the charge, the Daily Mail reported.

“Samantha Kerr, 30 (10.09.93) of Richmond was charged via postal charge requisition on 21 January with a racially aggravated offence under Section 4A Public Order Act 1986,” the Metropolitan Police later confirmed.

“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.”

“I understand that the defence is that she didn’t intend to cause alarm, harassment or distress to the officer, [her behaviour] did not amount to it and it was not racially aggravated,” Judge Judith Elaine Coello was reported to have said to Kerr’s barrister, Grace Forbes, in court.

The charges reportedly relate to an altercation just hours after Kerr scored a hat-trick for Chelsea as it defeated Liverpool 3-2 in an FA Cup match.

Kerr is expected to go to trial in February next year with two police officers scheduled to give evidence. The trial is due to last four days.

Football Australia CEO James Johnson said he “woke up to the news” on Tuesday morning and the organisation needed to “get our heads around” what had happened.

Kerr is technically an employee of Football Australia. But Johnson said he found out about the “unsettling event” only when it was reported by the media.

“We are trying to get to the bottom of it. We have our own questions that we would like to know. We have to find out what happened,” he said.

“We also want to say that there is a process that is underway in the United Kingdom and that process needs to run its course.”

Johnson said the allegations, which include racism, were “serious” and there was “no place for racism in our sport”.

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

Matildas coach Sam Gustavsson said he was also blindsided by the charge.

“First time I ever heard about it was this morning,” Gustavsson said in Sydney.

“I was informed this morning and obviously was surprised … I can make it very clear that today was the very first time I ever heard about it.”

Kerr is one of Australia’s best known and most recognisable figures, especially after the Matildas’ run to the semi-finals of last year’s home-hosted Women’s World Cup.

Johnson and Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson had already been due to front a media briefing in Adelaide on Tuesday about the Matildas’ home clashes ahead of the Paris Olympics. But it was dominated by questions about the controversy embroiling Kerr.

“Look, I think today’s announcement is great. We have the Matildas that are coming to Adelaide at the Adelaide Oval, 31 May, playing against one of the best in the world,” Johnson said.

“I think our focus, and the reason we’re here, is to focus on this issue.”

The Matildas qualified for the 2024 Games with a 10-0 thrashing of Uzbekistan in Melbourne last week.

Kerr did not play, and remains out of action as she recovers from an ACL injury. Her father Roger Kerr said on Friday she was “definitely” also going to miss the Olympics.

-with AAP

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