Sam Kerr saga takes fresh turn with new Football Australia statement

Football Australia has pledged its support for Sam Kerr while appealing for respect for the court proceedings surrounding the Matildas captain’s racial harassment case.

Kerr has yet to comment publicly after pleading not guilty in a London court to racially aggravated harassment of a police officer.

Football Australia (FA) hierarchy have been in touch with the global football star and her management amid increasing speculation about Kerr’s case.

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Her lawyers are set to argue an abuse of process at a pre-trial hearing on April 26 and seek to have the charge downgraded or dropped.

The April hearing comes ahead of a trial slated for next February, after Kerr was charged with using insulting, threatening or abusive words that caused alarm or distress to a police officer during an incident in Twickenham, southwest London, on January 30 last year.

Kerr was charged on January 21 this year and kept her court appearance on Monday in the UK secret from FA.

In a fresh statement on Friday, FA chief executive James Johnson said he wants to “reaffirm our support for Sam Kerr amidst the current allegations”.

“Sam has pleaded not guilty and her right to a fair and just legal process is important,” Johnson said in the statement.

“We trust the judicial system to handle this matter appropriately and urge respect for the legal proceedings.

“We are in touch with Sam and her team and Football Australia is committed to supporting Sam throughout this process.”

FA’s support marks a significant turnaround from Johnson on Tuesday revealing Kerr had failed to inform them of the “very serious” charge.

“We’re trying to get to the bottom of it at the moment,” he said.

“We’ve got our own questions that we’d like to know, we’ve got to find out what happened.

“This is news to us, and it’s concerning because of the subject and we need to get our heads around it.”

UK’s Metropolitan Police said the Matildas skipper, who plays her club football for Chelsea in England’s Women’s Super League, was charged in relation “to an incident involving a police officer who was responding to a complaint involving a taxi fare”.

Sam Kerr has not played with the Matildas this year following an ACL injury suffered in January. Credit: AAP

Harassment convictions in the UK can include a sentence of up to two years in custody when the offence is racially or religiously aggravated.

Chelsea manager Emma Hayes hasn’t confirmed when Kerr told the English club about the incident.

But Hayes said Kerr “has our full support, she knows that”.

“It’s a difficult time for her,” Hayes said on Wednesday.

“Of course I can’t comment (on the court case) … I can say that I know she’s pleaded not guilty and I don’t want to do anything to jeopardise anything for Sam by speaking about it.

“But she has our full support, she knows that. It’s really important I get that across, it’s something I really, really value.

“There’s difficult moments, tough times, and that’s what my role is at this football club – to make sure I look after our people.

“I want to make it clear that Sam will be supported by me and everybody else.”

– with 7NEWS

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