Rio Ferdinand was banned for three matches and fined £25,000 on Wednesday night after failing to respond to an FA charge of misconduct regarding an abusive tweet.
The Queens Park Rangers defender had reacted to online provocation by using the word ‘sket’ in a post about the person’s mother. Sket is a Caribbean word meaning a whore or a promiscuous girl or woman.
Failure to admit the charge may have counted against the 35-year-old, who recently served on FA chairman Greg Dyke’s England commission.
The tweet may also have been considered a second offence, given it is only two years since Ferdinand was fined £45,000 for referring to Ashley Cole as a ‘choc ice’.
According to various dictionaries, 'sket' is a Caribbean term for a whore, and the FA received a number of complaints from members of the public.
Ferdinand failed to respond to the initial charge on October 14, something which is believed to have contributed to the length of the ban imposed by the FA.
He is understood to be unhappy about the severity of the punishment given that his legal representatives did communicate with the FA over the issue.
Ferdinand posted the offending tweet on September 1 and Sportsmail understands the FA received a letter from London law firm Mishcon de Reya on September 10.
The letter stated that they did not believe their client had committed an offence but did stress he would be more careful with his comments on social media.
Why Ferdinand did not then respond to the FA’s charge is for him to explain.
But it may have been fuelled by a sense that there is a lack of consistency with these cases.
Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore faced no action from the FA earlier this year over a series of emails that contained sexist comments, and the FA have yet to charge.
Malky Mackay and Iain Moody over an exchange of emails and tweets that contained sexist as well as racist and homophobic remarks.
The FA would no doubt point to the difference between private correspondence and comments made on social media.
But the law would not see a distinction, particularly once private communications are made public.
Ferdinand was considering an appeal on Wednesday night. But if he accepts the punishment he will miss three matches with immediate effect and have to attend an education programme.
An FA statement said they considered Ferdinand’s to be an aggravated offence because his tweet included a reference to gender.
A statement on the FA website said: 'Queens Park Rangers defender Rio Ferdinand has been suspended for three matches commencing with immediate effect, subject to any appeal, after an FA misconduct charge against him was found proven.
'It was alleged a comment Ferdinand posted on his twitter account was abusive and/or indecent and/or insulting and/or improper.
'It was further alleged that this breach was aggravated pursuant to FA Rule E3(2) as the comment included a reference to gender.
'Following an Independent Regulatory Commission hearing on Wednesday 29 October, Ferdinand was also fined £25,000, severely warned as to his future conduct and ordered to attend an education programme, arranged by The FA within four months.'
But this is becoming a complex area for the FA when Ferdinand will be only too aware that in recent months the governing body took no action against either Premier League chief executive Scudamore or FA referees chief David Elleray over discrimination issues.
The FA have charged Ferdinand, despite the fact that he has been a member of FA chairman Greg Dyke's England commission. He was even linked recently with the post of FIFA vice-president.
Ferdinand's profile is huge. He has 5.9million Twitter followers and embraces social media to such an extent that he launched a chapter of his new book on Facebook.
He is also an ambassador for BT Sport — indeed he was involved in a BT Sport event with presenter Jake Humphrey in London on Tuesday night — and has worked as a pundit for the BBC.
Both BT Sport and the BBC declined to comment, but a tweet from Gary Lineker was fairly representative of the wider response.
The Match of the Day presenter said: 'Thanks to @rioferdy5 I've just learnt a new word. The most surprising aspect of his charge is that the FA knew what a 'sket' was.'
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2812993/Rio-Ferdinand-...
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook