Home » Sam Kerr: Football Australia says it was blindsided by player’s UK harassment charge and court appearance

Sam Kerr: Football Australia says it was blindsided by player’s UK harassment charge and court appearance

Football Australia and Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson say they were blindsided by an allegation of racially aggravated harassment made in the UK against Australian captain Sam Kerr, and only found out about the charge on Tuesday morning.

The striker appeared in court on Monday in the UK and pleaded not guilty to charges of using insulting, threatening or abusive words that caused alarm or distress to a police officer in an incident in January 2023.

FA chief executive James Johnson said he heard through the media.

“I woke up this morning like everyone else did to the news, and that is when Football Australia found out about this unsettling event,” he said.

“We are trying to get to the bottom of it at the moment. We have got our own questions that we’d like to know, we have got to find out what actually happened.

“But we also want to say that there is a process that is under way in the United Kingdom and that process needs to run its course.”

The Metropolitan police in London issued a statement saying “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 trial is set for February 2025.

Johnson was in Adelaide at a press conference announcing the Matildas’ first match in South Australia in almost five years, scheduled against China in May.

He said the charge against Kerr contained “very serious allegations, it regards racism”.

“At the same time Sam has rights, natural justice rights, procedural rights, that she has got to work her way through and we are respectful of that,” he said.

“We need to understand the issue a little bit better … we have got to establish the facts. We have got to get some answers before we have a view on what should be done as a next step.”

Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson speaks to media in Sydney on Tuesday. Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP

A second friendly against the Asian champions was also announced on Tuesday, in Sydney. Gustavsson revealed at the press conference announcing that match he too had no prior knowledge.

“The first time I had heard about it was this morning and I was surprised and had some time to have some consideration,” he said.

“[FA] came up with a statement because it’s a legal process, I need to refer to that statement, but I can make it very clear that today was the very first time I ever heard about it.”

FA stated on Tuesday morning the organisation was aware of the legal proceedings in the UK, but “as this is an ongoing legal matter, we are unable to provide further comment at this time”.

Gustavsson said he had not yet spoken to Kerr because she was asleep, and that based on his interactions with her, “I have only positive experience”.

The Swede would not be drawn over whether the allegation would impact Kerr’s role as captain. The 30-year-old striker suffered a serious knee injury and is expected to miss much of 2024.

But he said the news would not affect the rest of the team, which had qualified for the Olympics in July.

“They know what they stand for, they know what they stand for on the field,” he said.