Chelsea defender John Terry faces a criminal charge over allegations that he racially abused an opponent. (GLYN KIRK / AFP / Getty Images)

John Terry faces a criminal charge over allegations that he racially abused an opponent in the Premier League.

According to the Crown Prosecution Service, there is sufficient evidence to prosecute Terry, the Chelsea and England team captain, for comments alleged directed at Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand during an Oct. 23 game.

“I have today advised the Metropolitan Police Service that John Terry should be prosecuted for a racially aggravated public order offense following comments allegedly made during a Premier League football match between Queens Park Rangers and Chelsea,” Alison Saunders, the chief Crown Prosecutor for London, said. “The decision was taken in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors and after careful consideration of all the evidence I am satisfied there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction and it is in the public interest to prosecute this case.”

Terry, who is white, has maintained his innocence and vowed to fight the charges. He is to appear in court Feb. 1. Ferdinand, who is black, said he has “very strong feelings on the matter.” TV cameras caught the incident and an investigation began after a member of the public complained.

Terry released a statement saying: “I am disappointed with the decision to charge me and hope to be given the chance to clear my name as quickly as possible. I have never aimed a racist remark at anyone and count people from all races and creeds among my friends. I will fight tooth and nail to prove my innocence. I have campaigned against racism and believe there is no place for it in society.”

The offense carries a maximum penalty of a £2,500 fine. He almost certainly would be lose the England captaincy as well if found guilty. Terry was stripped of the captaincy before the 2010 World Cup finals; he allegedly had an affair with the ex-girlfriend of Wayne Bridge, a former Chelsea teammate. He later was reinstated.

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Telegraph: What’s next for Terry?