Chelsea defender Ashley Cole made a personal apology to Football Association (FA) chairman David Bernstein, Bernstein said yesterday, after a foul-mouthed outburst against the English game’s governing body.
Cole was charged with misconduct by the FA on Monday after the England star’s outburst on Twitter last week in response to the organization’s criticism of his evidence in the John Terry racial abuse hearing.
The 31-year-old was quick to delete the tweet — in which he branded the FA “a bunch of twats” — and also issued a statement apologizing for his rant, but Bernstein revealed that Cole had also said sorry to him in person on Monday.
“He apologized immediately on Friday and he came to see me last night and apologized to me personally,” Bernstein told BBC Radio Five Live. “He showed real contrition. He said he was really sorry. It was a serious apology. He expressed a degree of remorse for what he had done, wished it hadn’t happened. I looked him in the eye and really felt that he meant it.”
Bernstein also said that England manager Roy Hodgson would decide whether Cole plays against San Marino in Friday’s World Cup qualifier at Wembley after some pundits called for him to be dropped as punishment for the Twitter controversy.
“He is free to play for England over the coming matches. It is up to the manager to decide whether he plays or not,” Bernstein added.
With Hodgson left to decide whether or not to play Cole, the only threat to his chances of winning a 99th cap would appear to be if the England manager opts to rest him ahead of the crucial trip to Poland next week.
However, Bernstein said that Cole’s actions meant he was unlikely to captain England for what could be his landmark 100th cap against Poland on Tuesday.
Asked about the possibility of Cole being given the armband to mark the occasion, Bernstein, who played a key role in Terry being stripped of the captaincy over the Anton Ferdinand race row, said: “To be absolutely honest, I doubt it. We’ve expressed a view on what we need with regard to a captain and I doubt it, but we’ll see. We’ve had issues and we’ve stated publicly many times that we have a very high level of behavior and so on and so forth required from an English captain.”
Meanwhile, the FA general secretary Alex Horne said the Cole row had prompted his organization to consider putting guidelines on social media use in their code of conduct.
Cole is not the first high-profile player to pay the price for using Twitter to vent his frustrations and Horne says the FA are ready to take firm action in a bid to stop the problem spiraling out of control.
“You take personal responsibility for what you put out,” Horne told Sky Sports News. “Tweeting is effectively like me talking to you and millions of people and they need to understand that and I think they do.