Matildas coach supports Sam Kerr after racism charge

Matildas coach on Kerr captaincy

Source: AAP

Sam Kerr’s defence team is expected to seek to have the case against the Matildas captain dropped, or at least downgraded, when the matter returns to court in April.

News Corp reports Kerr’s lawyers will argue an abuse of process and will push for the matter to be thrown out before next year’s trial scheduled for February.

Kerr, Australia’s highest-profile sportswoman, faced a court in London on Tuesday charged with racially aggravated harassment of a police officer.

The incident dates to January last year, but the Chelsea striker was charged only on January 21 this year.

Kerr allegedly used insulting, threatening, or abusive language that caused alarm or distress to a London constable in an incident in Twickenham on January 30, 2023.

She has entered a not guilty plea.

Kerr did not inform Football Australia nor Matildas’ coach Tony Gustavsson of the charge. The first they heard of it was when the news broke in Australian on Tuesday morning.

Gustavsson said he would “always support” Kerr, although he remained circumspect when asked if she would be stripped of the Matildas’ captaincy.

“I can’t comment on anything other than referring to the FA statement,” Gustavsson said in Sydney on Tuesday.

“It’s a legal process right now.

“I was informed this morning and obviously was surprised.

“The only thing I can comment on is my experience and interaction with Sam as a person, as a footballer, and I have only positive experiences.

“FA was very clear in terms of supporting our players on and off the field … I understand why there’s a lot of questions about it.

“I will, as a human being, always support.”

Kerr’s English football club Chelsea has refused to weigh in as Kerr herself maintains her silence.

News Corp reports that hours after appearing in court via video link she was seen celebrating the belated birthday of teammate Mackenzie Arnold in London’s Covent Garden.

FA chief James Johnson played a straight bat when asked about the Matildas captaincy.

“It’s too early to tell … we need to understand the situation better and until that time we can’t really say anything further,” Johnson said in Adelaide on Tuesday.

“We need to allow the process to play out, I think that is important.

“Sam has rights as an individual, she has pleaded not guilty and I think we need to remember that and we need to respect that.”

Kerr is recovering from knee reconstructive surgery after tearing an anterior cruciate ligament during Chelsea’s warm weather training camp in Morocco.

The 30-year-old is expected to be sidelined from the Matildas’ campaign at this year’s Paris Olympics.

“I think it’s a bit too early to look at selection at this time,” Gustavsson said.

“With Sam’s serious injury, there’s obviously a very big question mark whether she would even be up for selection.

“I know she has the treatment and support from Chelsea in the recovery process as well.”

Kerr, runner-up to Spain’s Aitana Bonmati at the Ballon d’Or awards last year, is Australia’s record goalscorer with 69 in 128 matches.

-with AAP

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