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Arsenal can lay down a marker

Arsenal
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Ferdinand charged over Twitter remarks

The Football Association has charged Rio Ferdinand with improper conduct over comments he made on Twitter, it has announced.

A statement on the organisation's website said: "The allegation is that the player acted in a way which was improper and/or bought the game into disrepute by making comments which included a reference to ethnic origin and/or colour and/or race. Ferdinand has until August 2 to respond."

Earlier this month, he denied being racist towards the Chelsea defender Ashley Cole on Twitter in the aftermath of the John Terry trial.

Ferdinand, 33, had 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 Terry, who was cleared of racially abusing Rio's brother, Anton.

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 the Manchester Unitd player responded: "I hear you fella! Choc ice is classic! hahahahahahha!!"

The term "choc ice" could be construed as a reference to a person being black on the outside and white on the inside. But the following day, 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."

He also 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 both Ferdinand and Terry for England, issued a response through his lawyers in an attempt to defuse 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."

Although Terry, 31, was cleared of a racially aggravated public order offence during the match between Chelsea and QPR at Loftus Road last October, he faces a charge from the Football Association over the incident.