CHELSEA have issued a stark warning to fans about their behaviour in tomorrow’s powderkeg Premier League trip to QPR, as they prepare to return to the scene of last year’s race row between John Terry and Anton Ferdinand.
It comes amid speculation that the traditional pre-match handshake could be scrapped, with QPR defender Ferdinand said to be considering shunning Chelsea captain Terry and his Blues colleague Ashley Cole ahead of the hugely sensitive fixture.
Terry was in July acquitted of committing a racially aggravated public order offence towards Ferdinand in last year’s corresponding fixture, following a week-long trial at Westminster Magistrates Court in which Cole was called to give evidence.
Former England skipper Terry, who lost the armband over the allegations earlier this year, could yet face punishment from the Football Association, whose charge he denies, and Chelsea are anxious their supporters do not inflame the situation further.
“January’s FA Cup match at QPR and the meeting between the sides in April at Stamford Bridge were good examples of passionate and vocal rivalry with the fans of both clubs recognising that abuse and discrimination have no place in a football stadium, nor anywhere else in society,” the club said on its website.
“Chelsea Football Club wishes to see the level of respect at those games continued throughout this campaign, as it has been in our opening matches. Both Chelsea and QPR will work together with the police to ensure that anyone using discriminatory or inflammatory language on Saturday is identified, and that the strongest possible action is taken against them.”
Chelsea have also provided a telephone number to which fans can anonymously report abuse. The criminal investigation into Terry following the league match in October last year was prompted by a member of the public contacting Metropolitan Police to make a complaint.
Terry, who missed England’s draw with Ukraine on Tuesday through injury, and Ferdinand, who has been nursing a shoulder complaint, are both expected to be passed fit.