LONDON: Veteran ex-England defender Rio Ferdinand has been suspended for three matches and fined £25,000 by the Football Association for abusive comments.

Queens Park Rangers’ 35-year-old centre-back, who is considering retiring at the season’s end, was punished for the manner in which he snapped back at a critic on Twitter. He can appeal.

The critic suggested QPR needed to sign a good centre half and Ferdinand responded on September 1 by tweeting: ‘Get ya mum in, plays the field well son! #sket.’

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.

A statement on the FA website said: “It is alleged the comment posted on his Twitter account was abusive and/or indecent and/or insulting and/or improper. It is further alleged that this breach is aggravated pursuant to FA Rule E3(2) as it included a reference to gender.”

He was previously found guilty of improper conduct and fined £45,000 by the FA for comments on Twitter when Ashley Cole was called a ‘choc ice’, hinting that the former Chelsea defender is ‘black on the outside, white on the inside’.

** Mark Clattenburg, the Premier League referee, has been dropped from officiating this weekend for two breaches of protocol.

He broke rules by speaking speak on the phone to Crystal Palace manager Neil Warnock after Saturday’s draw against West Bromwich and he then left the ground alone to drive to Newcastle to watch pop star Ed Sheeran in concert.

The referee body, the Professional Game Match Officials Limited, says teams of officials must travel to and from the ground together for integrity and security.

Premier League rules state that all officials must be present during a conversation with a manager, which means an official cannot make or take calls from club managers away from the ground.