The announcement came just before 14:30 UK time, and means Terry will face a court appearance in February.
In the immediate aftermath of Luis Suarez being banned for eight games by the FA for a similar incident, this does not bode well for John Terry, or Chelsea.
Whilst the FA acts fairly and within the law, it would be fair to say the requirements for evidence within the Crown Prosecution Service are far stricter. John Terry will now face a criminal hearing into his alleged racist abuse of Anton Ferdinand.
The announcement that Terry will face a criminal hearing does in no way mean he will be found guilty in a court of law. It does mean that the FA could face a difficult decision in light of the Luis Suarez incident.
Suarez was charged and banned by the FA despite the police and CPS not feeling there was enough evidence to mount even an investigation of their own. Now they have charged John Terry after deciding there is enough evidence to provide realistic chance of a conviction.
If they did not feel this way, they would not have brought forward the charges.
The question that most people will be asking is what this means in football terms. The racially aggravated public order offence that Terry faces is not likely to land him any jail time if he is found guilty, but it will mean the FA needs to act.
After handing out an eight game ban to Luis Suarez, they need to be just a tough, if not tougher on Terry, should he be found guilty.
If guilty, should Terry be banned for eight games?
For Chelsea, his court appearance on the first of February makes his inclusion in the team for the fixture against Swansea unlikely. And should Terry be found guilty, that could be the first of many games he will miss.
Taking into account the date of his criminal hearing, and the subsequent time the FA will take to respond to that, there will be no ban for Terry, regardless of the outcome until at least mid-February. Add on to that any time for appeal, and it will be March before any ban in implemented.
And Chelsea needs to be ready for a ban, regardless of the outcome from the criminal hearing. If Suarez was banned with the reported 'lack of evidence' in his case, it would be logical to expect the FA to have enough evidence to ban Terry even if found not guilty by the CPS.
This is of course assuming Terry did in fact racially abuse Anton Ferdinand. This is an ongoing investigation, and Terry could easily be found not guilty by both the CPS and the FA.
But should that not be the case, what does that mean for Chelsea. Well, recent events with Luis Suarez would suggest an eight game ban.
That means using the timeline for outcomes of appeals, Terry could miss some crucial games for Chelsea. Between the start of March and the end of the season Chelsea will face Manchester City, Newcastle, Tottenham and Arsenal. All teams fighting for a spot in Europe.
Without Terry, those games could be a lot tougher for Chelsea.
If Terry is found guilty, and if he is banned by the FA, the result for Chelsea would be catastrophic. They would lose their captain, the heart of their defense and the soul of their team. Without Terry, Chelsea could stumble badly.
The FA have made it clear what they think of racism with Luis Suarez. The football world awaits to see what will happen to England and Chelsea captain John Terry if he is found guilty.