London, Oct 26: England captain John Terry is being investigated by The Football Association and police over allegations he racially abused a black opponent while playing for Chelsea.
Terry was accused of directing a racial slur at Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand during Sunday's 1-0 Premier League loss, and footage of the incident has spread on the internet.
It is the latest incident to blight Terry's scandal-plagued career, coming just seven months before he is due to lead England at the European Championship. The center back only regained the England captaincy in March—from Ferdinand's brother Rio—after being forgiven for a sex scandal by coach Fabio Capello ahead of the 2010 World Cup.
The result of the investigation launched by the FA on Tuesday evening could again throw into question his suitability as England captain.
“The FA can confirm it has received a complaint relating to an alleged incident of racist abuse in the QPR versus Chelsea fixture,” English football's governing body said in a statement. “The FA will now begin to make enquiries into this matter. The FA takes seriously any allegations of discrimination and abuse of this type.”
A separate investigation was launched at Scotland Yard.
“We can confirm that police have been notified of an incident ... involving alleged racial abuse,” the London police force said. “This is currently being assessed by officers.”
The 30-year-old Terry said the alleged comments directed at Ferdinand—who is black—were taken out of context by social media users who spread the video on Sunday night.
“I thought Anton was accusing me of using a racist slur against him,” he said after the match. “I responded aggressively, saying that I never used that term.”
After the FA investigation was opened, Terry released another statement saying: “I welcome the FA enquiry and look forward to clearing my name as soon as possible.”
QPR, which is back in the Premier League after 15 years, spent two days assessing the incident with Ferdinand before deciding to submit a complaint to the FA against its west London rival.
“Queens Park Rangers Football Club does not condone racism in any way, shape or form,” chairman Tony Fernandes said. “As a club, we will provide our players with our unequivocal support when alleged incidents like this occur.”
The incident happened during English football's anti-racism week, which highlights the progress made since abuse marred the game in the 1970s and 80s.
And it came just a week after the FA launched a probe into allegations that Liverpool striker Luis Suarez racially abused Manchester United's black defender Patrice Evra during a Premier League match.
“It is of great regret that ... two high profile incidents of alleged racist abuse have taken place,” said Herman Ouseley, chairman of English football's anti-racism group, Kick It Out. “This is worrying and potentially very damaging. What happens at the top end of the game has an impact at grass roots level and at parks pitches across the country.”
Off-field transgressions have followed Terry throughout his footballing career, which has been spent entirely at Chelsea.
He was fined by the club after he and three teammates drunkenly abused American guests at a London hotel the day after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
The England armband was taken off Terry by Capello in February 2010 following allegations that Terry had an affair with the former girlfriend of Wayne Bridge, an England teammate.
Rio Ferdinand, the older brother of Anton and Terry's longtime central defense partner with England, took over as captain only to relinquish it 13 months later.
Since the latest allegations emerged, Chelsea has thrown its full support behind Terry.
“(Terry) said to me the incident was a big misunderstanding,” manager Andre Villas-Boas said. “That's why he put his statement out straightaway. I find it strange when people don't trust the words of a representative from your country.”
The FA charged Chelsea with “failure to ensure their players conducted themselves in an orderly fashion” in Sunday's match when they surrounded referee Chris Foy. They were protesting against his decision to give a straight red card to Jose Bosingwa in the 33rd minute.
Didier Drogba was also sent off in the first half at Loftus Road and after Chelsea had seven players booked in a fiery match played in a hostile atmosphere, Villas-Boas accused Foy and his team of officials of being swayed by the crowd.
Villas-Boas said Foy's performance was “very, very poor” and acknowledged he was “very aggressive” with the official after the match.
The FA has asked the Portuguese coach to explain his post-match comments.
Chelsea has until Friday to respond to the governing body on both counts.