Calls to strip Sam Kerr of Matildas captaincy over 'reprehensible' move amid scandal

The Aussie football superstar failed to inform Football Australia of her charge or court appearance in London.

Sam Kerr is facing the prospect of losing the Matildas captaincy after failing to tell Football Australia about her harassment charge and court appearance in the UK. The Aussie football superstar appeared in court in London on Monday, pleading not guilty to a charge of racially aggravated harassment of a police officer.

The incident occurred in Twickenham in January of 2023, and was reportedly in relation to a dispute over a taxi fare. Kerr was charged on January 21 of this year and is set to face trial in February next year. The 30-year-old's lawyers will reportedly argue 'abuse of process' given it took the police nearly 12 months to lay charges.

Sam Kerr, pictured here in action for the Matildas.
Sam Kerr is facing calls that she should lose the captaincy of the Matildas. Image: Getty

But despite Kerr being charged some six weeks ago, Football Australia boss James Johnson revealed on Tuesday that he'd only found out about the situation at the same time as the general public. "I woke up this morning like everyone else did to the news," Johnson told reporters in Adelaide.

"And that is when Football Australia found out about this unsettling event. We are trying to get to the bottom of it at the moment. We have got our own questions that we'd like to know (answers to), we have got to find out what actually happened. But we also want to say that there is a process that is under way in the United Kingdom and that process needs to run its course."

Should Sam Kerr be stripped of Matildas captaincy?

Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson was also kept in the dark about the matter, sparking serious questions about what ramifications Kerr should receive for failing to inform the governing body. Commentator Jim Wilson wrote on social media on Tuesday: “There’s a presumption of innocence until proven guilty, but the cover-up is a disgrace by Sam Kerr, if I was the boss Football Australia I’d be livid and reading her the riot act, end of story. Optics are appalling!”

Emma Greenwood of the Herald Sun said Kerr should be stripped of the Matildas captaincy. "First and foremost Kerr deserves natural justice and the presumption of innocence," Greenwood wrote. "Kerr can perhaps be forgiven for not informing FA at the time of the incident, in January 2023, given she had not been charged.

"But once she was, it was reprehensible for her not to have told someone at FA headquarters. But for FA powerbrokers to have to be blindsided is a poor look for the code - and for Kerr’s leadership."

Greg Baum of the Sydney Morning Herald echoed that sentiment, pointing out that Aussie cricket captain Pat Cummins would be facing the same calls. "That six-week lag between learning of the charges and informing FA probably constitutes a code of conduct violation in itself and may be grave enough to jeopardise Kerr's captaincy of the Matildas regardless of the trial's outcome. If it was Pat Cummins, say, you'd think he would be out of the job already."

Sam Kerr, pictured here after the Matildas' loss to England in the semi-finals of the World Cup.
Sam Kerr looks on after the Matildas' loss to England in the semi-finals of the World Cup in 2023.

Criticism of how Sam Kerr responded to police charges

Andy Maher of SEN radio said Kerr's failure to inform FA is "worse than not good enough." He added: “We need to know more about the way the communications played out, we take the FA representatives at face value…that has been handled appallingly.

“Sam Kerr and the Matildas are at an all-time high in terms of the public adoration, the story has got all of its own challenging issues to it given the nature of the charge and the way this group of players have rallied around political issues… once this was a known matter for her and her management, surely, given her profile in Australia, it’s incumbent to tell the authorities in Australia what’s going on.”


Socceroos great Craig Foster said the allegations are "inconsistent" with Kerr's character. However he added on A Current Affair: "She clearly must have felt that this wasn't going to go forward, but once she knew that there were criminal charges being laid, in my view she had a duty to inform Football Australia, her governing body and her coach and the staff."

Kerr will be sidelined for the majority of 2024 after rupturing her ACL at a training camp with club team Chelsea in January. She is little chance of playing at the Olympics in Paris in July and August, but FA will have a big decision to make regarding the captaincy when she returns.

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