Australia superstar Sam Kerr will stand trial over alleged racial harassment of a police officer

MELBOURNE — Australia captain Sam Kerr will face trial in the UK accused of the racially aggravated harassment of a police officer in London over a year ago.

Chelsea forward Kerr, one of the world's most recognizable women footballers and a sporting idol in her home nation, was charged on Jan. 21, almost a year after the incident was alleged to have occurred.

"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," the Metropolitan Police said in a statement.

Kerr, who on the day before the incident scored a hat-trick against Liverpool in the FA Cup at Chelsea's home ground, is due to appear in court in February next year.

The 30-year-old pleaded not guilty via video link at Kingston Crown Court on Monday, British media reported.

Kerr's agent declined to comment. Chelsea did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Sam Kerr trial

Football Australia (FA) had been unaware of Kerr's legal trouble until the news broke early in Australia on Tuesday.

"We woke up to this this morning," FA boss James Johnson told reporters in Adelaide.

"Of course, it’s a very serious allegation. It regards racism and there’s no place for racism in our sport.

"At the same time Sam has rights, natural justice rights, procedural rights that she's got to work her way through and we're respectful of that."

Australia coach Tony Gustavsson was similarly surprised and said he would "as a human being, always support (Kerr)."

"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," he told reporters in Sydney.

The news overshadowed FA's announcement of the national women's team's farewell matches against China in Adelaide on May 31 and in Sydney on June 3 before their campaign to win a first Olympic medal at the Paris Games.

Johnson said FA were seeking more information and that it was too early to comment on whether the incident might affect Kerr's captaincy of the 'Matildas', the national women's side.

Embed from Getty Images

"I haven't spoken to Sam other than a text message just to check in on her wellbeing at the moment because she is an employee of ours and also a player," he said.

Kerr, Australia's all-time top scorer with 69 goals in 128 appearances, has been sidelined since suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury at Chelsea training in January.

Revered by Australian soccer fans, Kerr's global celebrity helped bring the women's game into the mainstream and drive a major hike in corporate sponsorship for the Matildas, who reached the Women's World Cup semi-finals on home soil last year.

Kerr is also a magnet for global brands in her own right, having signed deals with Nike, Mastercard and a major Australian bank.

She became the first woman on the cover of EA Sports' FIFA, the world's most popular soccer video game, before it was discontinued last year.

Last May, she led the Australian delegation as flag-bearer at King Charles's coronation at Westminster Abbey.

The poster-girl for the World Cup, Kerr battled a calf injury that ruled her out much of Australia's campaign but she returned later in the tournament and scored a wonder goal in the semi-final against England.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Additional reporting by Tommy Lund in Gdansk; Editing by Ken Ferris, Peter Rutherford)

Videos you might like