SARAH BLAKE OPINION: Why the parents of Australia need answers from Samantha Kerr

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Sarah Blake
The Nightly
4 Min Read
In today’s episode, we unpack Sam Kerr’s surprise police charges in London, discuss Brittany Higgins’ return to Australia for a court date with Linda Reynolds and dig into the reappearance of Kate Middleton.

We don’t know what happened that morning last year when Sam Kerr allegedly used a racial slur against an English police officer after an argument with a taxi driver in London, where she’s the most famous Aussie playing for Chelsea FC.

But I know I’m not the only one with a lot of questions for the Australian captain.

Nobody can deny the impact Kerr’s soaring return from injury to lead the Matildas had on our national side and psyche during last year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup. Like so many (happy to admit) enthusiastic new fans of women’s football, I was caught up in the magic and the way our beautiful cities welcomed the world and heaved with warmth and showed off just how good we are.

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So many smiling little faces of a new generation of soccer fans were suddenly everywhere, and they lit up and backed these women with standing-room-only overflow-crowds, roaring with appreciation.

So what do we tell them today?

Your queen, the one for whom many of your hearts have felt heavy this past week amid concern she will be struck out of the Olympics with an ACL tear, is in big trouble.

And while there are ugly words involved, like “racially aggravated offence” and “criminal trial”, we won’t be filling in any of the obvious blanks presented by the sparsely detailed news reports of her court appearance.

If this was a story about an NRL player in Australia it seems incredibly unlikely it would have been kept quiet so long and also likely, given the seriousness of the charge, they would have stopped playing under the no-fault stand-down policy.

Sam Kerr is a role model for younger players.
Sam Kerr is a role model for younger players. Credit: Andrew Ritchie/The West Australian

On the bright side, Kerr is unlikely to face the immediate cancelling other Australian female athletes have been dealt after public transgressions.

Think Dawn Fraser’s lingering shame and Olympics ban in the 1960s, the shadow still hanging over champion triathlete Candice Warner from a long-ago one night stand with a footy player.

And it’s not that long ago that a young Stephanie Rice went from one of our most successful Olympians with three gold medals at Beijing to being demonised for being a party girl and posting a homophobic slur on social media.

Thankfully, Kerr, 30, is unlikely to face a similar pile-on.

Partly it’s because we’ve all grown up a little. Post #metoo it’s just not on to demonise the bad girls who break the mould. And, notwithstanding her immense physical talent, there is plenty of evidence that Kerr’s clearly defined persona and sense of self is a huge part of her broad appeal.

That confidence was on display just hours after her court appearance over video link on Tuesday morning in the UK, where she spoke only to confirm her identity in a brief hearing at Kingston Crown Court.

She has pleaded not guilty to the charge of using insulting, threatening or abusive words which caused alarm or distress to a police constable and the matter was adjourned to February, 2025, for a four-day trial at which two officers are expected to give evidence.

The Metropolitan Police later confirmed: “Samantha Kerr, 30 (10.09.93) of Richmond was charged via postal charge requisition on 21 January with a racially aggravated offence under Section 4A Public Order Act 1986.”

As the reverberations continued around the world — Kerr is one of the most famous Australians in global sport and a huge name in England as star striker for Chelsea FC — she was photographed smiling with teammates celebrating fellow Matilda Mackenzie Arnold’s birthday in London.

Australia’s governing body, which reportedly was kept in the dark about the allegation and only learned about it by media reports on Tuesday, said in a brief statement it would support Kerr.

“Football Australia is aware of the legal proceedings involving Sam Kerr in the United Kingdom,” it said.

“As this is an ongoing legal matter, we are unable to provide further comment at this time. Our focus remains on supporting all our players, both on and off the field. We will continue to monitor the situation and provide support as appropriate.”

Because of the seriousness of the charges she faces and the febrile world we’re in when it comes to matters of race and celebrity, Australians deserve more of an explanation than we’ve been given about what exactly happened that day in Twickenham.

And Sam Kerr and her management are the only ones who can give it to us.

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