Australia's Sam Kerr celebrates after scoring her side's first goal...

Australia's Sam Kerr celebrates after scoring her side's first goal during the Women's World Cup semifinal soccer match between Australia and England at Stadium Australia in Sydney, Australia, on Aug. 16, 2023. Kerr has pleaded not guilty to racially aggravated harassment of a police officer, prosecutors in Britain said on Monday, March 4, 2024. Credit: AP/Rick Rycroft

LONDON — Australian soccer star Sam Kerr has pleaded not guilty to racially aggravated harassment of a police officer, prosecutors in Britain said on Monday.

The 30-year-old striker, who plays her club soccer for Chelsea in England, was charged with causing a police officer harassment, alarm or distress during an incident in Twickenham, southwest London, on Jan. 30 last year, according to the Crown Prosecution Service.

The PA news agency in Britain reported that London's Metropolitan Police said the incident involved an officer who was responding to a complaint about a taxi fare.

Kerr was charged in January. She denied the charge at a plea and trial preparation hearing at Kingston upon Thames Crown Court on Monday, the Press Association reported. She is set to face court next February.

Chelsea has not commented officially about the reported incident.

Football Australia CEO James Johnson and women's national team coach Tony Gustavsson told Australian media they’d only been made aware of the charges against Kerr on Tuesday morning.

Johnson said he had sent a message to Kerr to check in on her welfare but hadn’t had a conversation with her about it.

“We’re trying to get to the bottom of it. We have our own questions we would like to know,” Johnson was quoted by News Corp. as saying during a press conference in Adelaide. “There is a process that is under way and that process needs to run its course.

"I don’t want to get into the allegations. They are serious allegations. At the same time, Sam has rights — natural justice rights, procedural rights — that she has to work her way through and we respect that.”

Gustavsson said he couldn’t comment on the charges and referred to an earlier statement from Football Australia.

“The only thing I can comment on is my experience and interaction with Sam as a person and as a footballer," he said, "and I have only positive experience with that."

In an earlier statement issued after media reports started emerging from Britain, Australia's soccer federation said it was aware of the proceedings involving Kerr but was unable to comment on the ongoing legal matter.

“Our focus remains on supporting all our players, both on and off the field,” Football Australia said in a statement. “We will continue to monitor the situation and provide support as appropriate.”

Kerr is currently sidelined after an anterior cruciate ligament injury during a warm-weather training camp with Chelsea women’s team in Morocco in January.

Kerr is the captain of Australia's national women's team, the Matildas, and the country's all-time leading scorer in international soccer with 69 goals from 128 games.

She has scored 58 goals for Chelsea in the WSL since 2020 following prolific stints playing for clubs in the U.S. and Australia.

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