RIO FERDINAND has been left ‘dumbfounded’ by an FA charge over a tweet he made about Ashley Cole.

Rio gobsmacked by charge

In the wake of John Terry’s racism trial, Ferdinand responded to a Twitter comment that referred to Cole as a “choc ice”.

A source said: “It is fair to say Rio is dumbfounded by this.

“He saw the tweet as a simple response to one of his followers rather than anything malicious and fears the FA is out of touch with modern-day social networking.”

Rio could be hit with a ban if he is found guilty of the improper conduct charge — although a £20,000 fine is more likely.

The incident that has landed the Manchester United centre-half in hot water came before Chelsea defender Terry was acquitted of racially abusing Ferdinand’s brother Anton.

Cole was a key witness in Terry’s defence and, when one of Rio’s 3million-plus followers referred to the left-back as a ‘choc ice’, Ferdinand responded: “I hear you fella! Choc ice is classic! Hahahahahahha!”

‘Choc ice’ is a derogatory term meaning black on the outside, white on the inside.

An FA statement read: “The allegation is that the player acted in a way which was improper and/or brought the game into disrepute by making comments which included a reference to ethnic origin and/or colour and/or race.”

Ferdinand has until 4pm on Thursday to respond.

The charge is even more of a surprise given that the FA failed to act when Daniel Pacheco tweeted “Good luck negrito!” to Liverpool club-mate Glen Johnson ahead of Euro 2012