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Arsenal full-back Ashley Cole is to sue two national newspapers for libel following claims about the sexuality of two unnamed footballers.

The News Of The World and the Sun printed allegations about two top players, prompting rumours to spread about the identities of the two players.

Cole’s lawyer has issued writs against the papers, claiming “libel, harassment and breach of privacy”.

In a statement, Cole’s solicitor Graham Shear said: “These proceedings were commenced because these newspapers published false and offensive articles designed to tell readers that Ashley had behaved in what the News of the World described as a ‘perverted’ way with other professional footballers.

“The newspapers knew there was no basis to name Ashley but arranged the articles and pictures in such a way that readers would identify him.

“There is no truth whatever in these allegations. Ashley Cole will not tolerate this kind of cowardly journalism or let it go unchallenged.

“It is disgraceful that he should be faced with this kind of unpleasant insinuation and innuendo at a time when he is trying to focus on this summer’s World Cup and his forthcoming wedding.”

The case is being seen as a landmark case by many lawyers as it could set a precedent for how the libel law deals with allegations made against unnamed individuals.

Cole is currently out for three weeks after spraining his ankle in his comeback match in the Arsenal reserves. He has played just an hour’s worth of competitive football since October after suffering foot and thigh injuries.

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