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Cole apologises for Twitter tirade

Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo and press officer Steve Atkins discuss Ashley Cole's controversial tweet on Friday morning.

Ashley Cole has issued an unreserved apology after he launched a Twitter tirade against the FA.

• 'No credible basis' for Terry defence
• Blog: Terry storm to continue
• Cole launches attack on FA

Earlier on Friday, the Chelsea defender used his official Twitter account to respond to the publication of an FA panel's report into the John Terry racism verdict.

As his Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo fielded questions in his weekly pre-match press conference at the club's Cobham training ground, Cole tweeted: "Hahahahaa, well done #fa I lied did I, #BUNCHOFTW***''

The tweet created a storm and was re-tweeted more than 19,000 times before Cole deleted it.

And in a statement released on Friday afternoon, he said: "I had just finished training and saw the captions on the TV screens in the treatment rooms about what was said in the FA commission ruling about me.

"I was really upset and tweeted my feelings in the heat of the moment. I apologise unreservedly for my comment about the FA."

Asked about the incident, Di Matteo said: "We'll look at the tweet and then we'll see. Apart from this, I don't think the players are out of control.''

A Chelsea spokesman said: "We would prefer that everyone takes the club's lead on this issue and holds any comment they have until an appropriate time."

The tweet sparked speculation about Cole's international future. He has 98 England caps for England, and is in the squad for the next two World Cup qualifiers. The FA has yet to respond.

In its written reasons for the punishment handed to Terry, the tribunal panel said it had "considerable doubts" about evidence given in support of Terry by Cole, suggesting it had "evolved".

The document released on Friday says the Chelsea left-back added, at a later date, the word "black" into a witness statement outlining what he claimed to have heard Anton Ferdinand saying to Terry when QPR played Chelsea at Loftus Road last October.

Cole backed his team-mate's claim that he had repeated the words "f****** black c***'' because he thought Ferdinand had accused him of saying them.

He said he thought Ferdinand may have used the word "black" during a verbal exchange with Terry but, according to the commission, did not mention the word when interviewed by the FA on October 28.

On November 3, David Barnard, the Chelsea club secretary, asked the FA for the word to be inserted into Cole's witness statement, suggesting that the defender may have heard Ferdinand use it.

The commission saw an email exchange between the FA and Barnard, which it said should be regarded as "cogent new evidence".

In a statement, Chelsea defended both Cole and Bernard, saying: "Ashley co-operated at all times with the FA and stands by the evidence that he gave and does not accept the criticism that has been made.

"David co-operated fully with the FA at all times. He stands by his evidence and does not accept the criticism that has been made."

With Cole on 98 caps, whether the issue has implications on his international career remains to be seen. Sources close to the player, though, said that they did not expect him to retire and that he sees it as a source of great pride to reach 100.