Manchester United centre-back Rio Ferdinand has denied being racist towards Chelsea defender Ashley Cole on Twitter, instead claiming the term "choc ice" means "fake".
Ferdinand, 33, responded to a comment on Twitter which described Cole, 31, as a "choc ice", after the latter appeared in court as a defence witness for Chelsea team-mate John Terry, who was cleared of racially abusing Rio's brother, Anton, on Friday.
A Twitter user wrote: "Looks like Ashley Cole's going to be their choc ice. Then again he's always been a sell out. Shame on him," to which Rio Ferdinand responded: "I hear you fella! Choc ice is classic! hahahahahahha!!"
The United player then reacted to criticism of his remark by writing: "And if I want to laugh at something someone tweets....I will! Hahahahaha! Now stop getting ya knickers in a twist!"
Cole, who has played regularly alongside Rio Ferdinand and Terry for England, issued a response through his lawyers on Saturday evening in an attempt to diffuse tensions.
It read: "Ashley Cole has been made aware of the discussion following comments appearing on Twitter and wishes to make it clear that he and Rio Ferdinand are good friends and Ashley has no intention of making any sort of complaint. Ashley appreciates that Tweeting is so quick it often results in off-hand and stray comments."
The term "choc ice" could be construed as a reference to a person being black on the outside and white on the inside. On Sunday morning, however, Rio Ferdinand wrote on Twitter: "What I said yesterday is not a racist term. Its a type of slang/term used by many for someone who is being fake. So there."
Although Terry, 31, has been cleared of a racially aggravated public order offence during the match between Chelsea and QPR at Loftus Road last October, he could still face a charge from the Football Association.