Sam Kerr
Chelsea and Australia striker, Sam Kerr, has been charged with racially aggravated harassment towards a police officer. Carl Recine/Reuters

Australia women's national football team manager, Tony Gustavsson, has admitted that he did not know anything about recent charges placed on his captain, Sam Kerr.

On Monday, it was revealed that Kerr had been charged with racially aggravated harassment of a London police officer from an incident occurring back in Twickenham in January 2023. The matter involved the officer responding to a taxi fare complaint.

The Matildas star did not physically attend Monday's plea and trial preparation hearing in Kingston Crown Court and instead appeared through a video link. The 30-year-old only spoke when announcing her name and when she plead not guilty to accusations of alarming or distressing the police officer through the use of insulting, threatening or abusive language.

The player will now face trial for four days starting from 1st February 2025 at Wimbledon Magistrates Court. Two police officers are set to attend the trial and provide evidence over the incident.

The news of Kerr being charged and having to go on trial broke during the early hours of Tuesday morning in Australia and caught many in her homeland by surprise.

A press conference took place on Tuesday morning in Australia to announce that the Matildas would be playing China in two friendly matches across May and June to prepare for this summer's Summer Olympics in Paris.

However, that announcement was overshadowed by the news surrounding Kerr, with Gustavsson addressing the matter. He said: "First time I heard about it was this morning. I was informed and obviously was surprised and had some time to talk to the federation (Football Australia) about it."

Gustavsson mentioned that he could not speak further on the situation, but he did touch on his own relationship with Kerr. The 50-year-old clarified: "I can't comment on the offence because it's a legal matter. The only thing I can comment is my experience and interactions with Sam, as a person, as a footballer, and I have only positive experiences from that."

CEO of Football Australia, James Johnson, was also unaware of Kerr's charges prior to the news going public. At the press conference, he acknowledged the severity of the charges whilst also stressing the need for patience with the case.

He commented: "We have to understand what happened. It regards racism and there is no place for racism in our sport. At the same time Sam has rights, natural justice rights, procedural rights that she has to work her way through."

The news of Kerr's charges comes during a time where she is thought of as one of the leading stars in women's football. She has finished in the top three places in the last three editions of the Ballon d'Or Feminin and has won 10 trophies and scored 99 goals since joining Chelsea in January 2020.

Kerr is also one of the main factors attributed with helping the women's game reach increased levels of popularity in Australia. She participated in the Matildas run to the semi-finals of the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup and scored one of the goals of the tournament in the team's exit to England.

The 30-year-old is currently recovering from an anterior cruciate ligament injury that she sustained during Chelsea's warm weather training camp in Morocco at the beginning of 2024. The striker has been ruled out of featuring for Chelsea again this season and is very unlikely to be ready for the football tournament at the Olympics, which begins in late July.

In her absence, Chelsea will be looking to win a fifth successive Women's Super League title and are currently in a good position to achieve that as the team sits top on goal difference ahead of Manchester City, with seven games remaining.

Emma Hayes' side will also be targeting a first UEFA Women's Champions League title, having finished as runner-up in the 2021 final to Barcelona.