RIO Ferdinand has arrived at court to face a "racist" fan who allegedly hurled abuse at the TV pundit during a football game.
Jamie Arnold, 31, allegedly used racist words and gestures towards the former footballer during a match between Wolves and Manchester United on May 23.
The 31-year-old has also been charged with making homophobic comments towards the referee.
Rio – escorted by a policeman – and Arnold both arrived at Wolverhampton Crown Court this morning.
At a hearing in July, the 31-year-old pleaded not guilty to causing racially aggravated harassment, alarm or distress.
The alleged abuse occurred at Wolves' home ground Molineux – at the first game where a reduced number of supporters were allowed in the ground following the easing of Covid restrictions.
It was also head coach Nuno Espirito Santo’s final game for Wolves.
A probe was launched by PC Stuart Ward, who was appointed the UK's first dedicated hate crime officer within a football unit.
Former Man Utd star Rio was covering the game for BT Sport at Molineux.
At the time, he said: “The last couple weeks, it’s been unreal to see fans back.
"However, to the Wolves fan who has just been thrown out for doing a monkey chant at me, you need to be dismissed from football and educated.
"Come meet me and I will help you understand what it feels like to be racially abused!”
The alleged abuse comes after Three Lions heroes were subjected to a barrage of racist abuse after the Euro 2020 final.
Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho were targeted online after England were beaten on penalties in an agonising final.
Ex-England star Rio blasted the "cowardly" rats behind the tweets and said more needed to be done.
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