Football Association chairman David Bernstein has revealed that Ashley Cole apologised to him personally on Monday night over his offensive Twitter message.
Bernstein stressed that England manager Roy Hodgson will decide whether the full-back plays against San Marino in Friday's World Cup qualifier. Cole was charged with misconduct by the FA over his Twitter outburst on Friday in response to the independent regulatory commission's damning judgement on his evidence in the John Terry racial abuse verdict.
Bernstein, speaking to Radio 5 Live ahead of the official opening of the National Football Centre at St George's Park in Burton, revealed that Cole had followed up his apology to the FA on Friday with a personal apology. Bernstein said: "He apologised immediately on Friday and he came to see me last night and apologised to me personally."
The FA chairman continued: "He showed real contrition. He said he was really sorry. He is free to play for England over the coming matches. It is up to the manager to decide whether he plays or not."
Bernstein was convinced Cole's apology was heart-felt. He told Sky Sports News: "It was a serious apology. He expressed a degree of remorse for what he had done, wished it hadn't happened. I looked him in the eye and really felt that he meant it."
Bernstein admitted, though, that the Chelsea full-back's actions meant he was unlikely to captain England for what could be his 100th cap against Poland next Tuesday.
Asked about the possibility of Cole being given the armband to mark the occasion, Bernstein said: "To be absolutely honest I doubt it. We've expressed a view on what we need with regard to a captain and I doubt it, but we'll see.
"We've had issues and we've stated publicly many times that we have a very high level of behaviour and so on and so forth required from an English captain."
Bernstein also revealed the FA will not appeal the punishment handed to Terry by the independent regulatory commission.
"The FA, I believe, will not be appealing it," he said. "But the thing is still under possible appeal therefore I do not want to talk about the John Terry thing at all. It's not over yet and John Terry has a right of appeal himself."