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'We've got our own questions': Blindsided Football Australia CEO says Sam Kerr kept racial harassment charge secret

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5th March, 2024
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Australia’s highest-profile sportswoman Sam Kerr kept her racial harassment charge and court appearance secret from Football Australia.

The Matildas captain has faced a London court charged with racially aggravated harassment of a police officer.

Football Australia (FA) chief executive James Johnson says Kerr didn’t inform the sport’s hierarchy of the “very serious” charge.

“I woke up this morning like everyone else did to the news,” Johnson told reporters in Adelaide.

“And that is when Football Australia found out about this unsettling event.

“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 (answers to), 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.”

Kerr, the England-based global football superstar who has scored more international goals than any other Australian, entered a not guilty plea and will likely face another court hearing in February.

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

The Matildas and Chelsea striker is charged with using insulting, threatening or abusive words that caused alarm or distress to PC Lovell during an incident in Twickenham on January 30 last year.

Kerr was charged on January 21 this year, but didn’t inform FA or Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson.

“I was informed this morning and obviously was surprised,” Gustavsson told reporters in Sydney.

Sam Kerr thanks the fans after Australia's World Cup semi-final loss.

Sam Kerr thanks the fans after Australia’s World Cup semi-final loss. (Photo by Zhizhao Wu/Getty Images)


“I can make it very clear that today was the very first time I ever heard about it.”

Kerr appeared at Kingston Crown Court via video-link and spoke only to confirm her identity and to enter a not guilty plea, the Daily Mail reported.

The UK’s Metropolitan Police later confirmed: “Samantha Kerr, 30 (10.09.93) of Richmond was charged via postal charge requisition on 21 January with a racially aggravated offence under Section 4A Public Order Act 1986.

“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.”

In court, Judge Judith Elaine Coello was reported to have said to Kerr’s barrister, Grace Forbes: “I understand that the defence is that she didn’t intend to cause alarm, harassment or distress to the officer, (her behaviour) did not amount to it and it was not racially aggravated.”

Johnson said the charge 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.”

Kerr, the Matildas’ captain since February 2019, is currently recovering from knee reconstructive surgery, which is expected to sideline her from this year’s Paris Olympics

Johnson and Gustavsson both refused to speculate on whether Kerr would lose the national captaincy.

“It’s too early to tell,” Johnson said.

“We need to understand the situation better, and until that time we can’t really say anything further.

“We need to allow the process to play out, that is important.


“Sam has rights as an individual, she has pleaded not guilty, and I think we need to remember that and we need to respect that.”