Soccer-Australia's Kerr to stand trial over alleged racial harassment of police officer

Soccer Football - Women's Champions League - Group D - Chelsea v BK Hacken - Stamford Bridge, London, Britain - December 14, 2023 Chelsea's Sam Kerr during the warm up before the match Action Images via Reuters/John Sibley/File Photo

(Reuters) -Australia captain Sam Kerr will face trial in the UK accused of the racially aggravated harassment of a police officer.

Chelsea forward Kerr, one of the world's most recognisable women footballers, was charged on Jan. 21, almost a year after the incident was alleged to have occurred in southwest London.

"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.

The 30-year-old is due to appear in court in February next year.

Kerr pleaded not guilty via video link at Kingston Crown Court on Monday, British media reported.

The news overshadowed Football Australia's (FA) announcement of the national women's team's farewell matches before their campaign to win a first Olympic medal at the Paris Games.

“Football Australia is aware of the legal proceedings involving Sam Kerr in the United Kingdom," FA said in a statement on Tuesday.

"As this is an ongoing legal matter, we are unable to provide further comment at this time.

"Our focus remains on supporting all our players, both on and off the field. We will continue to monitor the situation and provide support as appropriate."

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

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

The poster-girl for last year's Women's World Cup co-hosted by Australia, Kerr battled a calf injury that ruled her out of much of the action but 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)

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