• Manchester United defender says 'choc ice' tweet not racist
• Fallout from John Terry's court case continues to rumble on
Rio Ferdinand has denied being racist towards Ashley Cole on Twitter, but that instead he was calling him a fake. Ferdinand defended his response to a tweet which referred to Cole as a "choc ice", insisting that rather than being a racist term, it is used in reference to "someone who is being fake".
Ferdinand's latest comments threaten to further ignite the controversy caused by John Terry's court case, in which the Chelsea captain was accused of racially abusing the Manchester United defender's brother, Anton.
Cole acted as a witness for his team-mate and captain Terry, who was found innocent on Friday, during the trial. The term "choc ice", commonly understood to mean "black on the outside, white on the inside", was used in reference to Cole in a tweet sent to Rio Ferdinand on Saturday.
"Looks like Ashley Cole's going to be their choc ice," it read. "Then again he's always been a sell out. Shame on him." Ferdinand responded in a tweet: "I hear you fella! Choc ice is classic! hahahahahahha!!"
However Ferdinand's response attracted much criticism on Twitter, prompting him to delete it, before he took to the site again on Sunday morning to defend himself. "What I said yesterday is not a racist term," he tweeted. "Its a type of slang/term used by many for someone who is being fake. So there."
Following the reaction to his response on Saturday night, Ferdinand tweeted: "And if I want to laugh at something someone tweets....I will! Hahahahaha! Now stop getting ya knickers in a twist!"
He then appeared to make reference to the trial again, tweeting "Its sarcasm !". Terry was accused of calling Anton Ferdinand a "fucking black cunt" during a match between QPR and Chelsea last October, but the 31-year-old claimed he was simply repeating the words after being falsely accused of saying them and also suggested he was being sarcastic rather than racist when the pair clashed.
Rio Ferdinand has played dozens of times for England with Cole, who described himself at Terry's trial as a long-standing friend of the Ferdinand brothers. Cole told the court that Terry was not a racist.
Saturday's episode drew a response from Cole's lawyers: "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." Cole or his representatives have yet to comment on Ferdinand's latest tweet.
Terry could yet face a Football Association disrepute charge despite being cleared in court. Lord Herman Ouseley, chair of the anti-racism group Kick It Out, told the Observer: "I am worried that this is a defining moment for the FA, to show it is a governing body prepared to keep to a high standard on the racism issue. If this incident, and the racial element of it, is not seen to be dealt with properly, there is the potential for black players to lose confidence in the authorities and withdraw their support for anti-racism campaigns."
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