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Criminal Charges For English Soccer Star John Terry Over Alleged Racial Abuse

One of England's biggest soccer stars is going to face criminal charges for allegedly aiming a racial slur at an opponent.

The Crown Prosecution Service announced today that John Terry, who plays for Chelsea in the English Premier League and is captain of England's national team, is being accused of using "threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress which was racially aggravated" during a Premier League match on Oct. 23 against the Queens Park Rangers club.

The alleged slur, which Terry denies making, was supposedly directed toward Anton Ferdinand, who is black.

According to the BBC, the charge against Terry carries a maximum penalty of a fine totaling about $4,000.

This is the second action taken this week against an international soccer star accused of racially abusing an opponent. Luis Suarez from Uruguay, who plays for Liverpool in the English Premier League, faces an eight-game ban and a nearly $63,000 fine from England's Football Association for things he allegedly said to Manchester United opponent Patrice Evra during a match on Oct. 15. The Liverpool club has accused the Football Association of judging Suarez before hearing any evidence.

According to The Guardian, Suarez has only admitted to calling Evra "a negro."

The Football Association has not weighed in on the alleged incident involving Terry, though it is making "enquiries into this matter." It did fine the Chelsea team about $31,000 for another incident during that match when some of the club's players surrounded a "match official" to complain about one player's dismissal.

For those who don't follow the English Premier League, imagine if a star quarterback in the NFL was facing criminal charges for supposedly having hurled a racial slur at an opponent during a game.

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.