Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand was fined ￡45,000 (US$70,000) by the Football Association (FA) on Friday for improper conduct over comments he made on Twitter relating to the John Terry racism trial.
Chelsea captain Terry was found not guilty last month of racially abusing Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand, Rio’s brother, during a Premier League game on Oct. 23 last year, although he is now contesting an FA charge over the same incident.
During the trial, Ferdinand appeared to endorse a tweet by another user of the microblogging Web site which described Chelsea defender Ashley Cole, who gave evidence on behalf of Terry in the trial, as a “choc ice.”
The term is understood to mean someone who is black on the outside, but white on the inside.
The FA felt Rio Ferdinand’s support for the controversial tweet brought the game into disrepute.
“Manchester United’s Rio Ferdinand has been fined ￡45,000 after an independent regulatory commission found proven a charge of improper conduct in relation to a comment posted on Twitter,” an FA statement read. “The commission decided that the comment was improper and brought the game into disrepute. In addition, the commission found that the breach included a reference to ethnic origin, color or race.”
Cole, who also said at the trial that he was a longstanding friend of the Ferdinand brothers, was accused by one person who sent a tweet to Rio Ferdinand of being a “choc ice.”
The person wrote: “Looks like Ashley Cole’s going to be their choc ice. Then again he’s always been a sell out. Shame on him.”
Manchester United defender Rio, who has played with Terry at the heart of England’s defense, replied: “I hear you fella! Choc ice is classic! hahahahahahha!!”
Users began discussing the comments and Rio Ferdinand wrote: “And if I want to laugh at something someone tweets ... I will! Hahahahaha! Now stop getting ya knickers in a twist!”
United boss Sir Alex Ferguson believes Rio Ferdinand’s punishment highlights the danger of star players using Twitter.
Ferguson revealed United’s squad are banned from talking about the club on Twitter and he warned that players who let off steam on the internet are asking for trouble from the FA.
“It was almost certain to happen,” he said of the fine.
“What surprises me is that other players have been tweeting for ages and have never been challenged by the FA,” Ferguson added. “I don’t know why anybody can be bothered with Twitter. But it is there and as a club we have given instructions to the players that they cannot talk about Manchester United.”
“Rio is mature but he still has to remember that one word can make a difference — and you can’t take it back,” he said.