Nov 232012

The conclusion that everyone expected from the Mark Clattenburg racism case was revealed yesterday, with the FA deeming that the referee didn’t have a case to answer.

Ramires claimed that Clattenburg said “shut up you monkey” when having a discussion with John Obi Mikel about decisions in the game. Despite Ramires being further away than Mikel, he was the only person who claimed to hear the racist slur. It took the FA two weeks to establish with Ramires on the video footage when the supposed insult took place, but the footage didn’t support Ramires’ claim. The three other match day officials, who could hear every word Clattenburg said during the game, were all adament that he didn’t use the word “monkey”.

The FA will not be punishing Ramires as they believe he made the accusation in good faith. His grasp of the English language is poor and they have judged that it was just a misunderstanding. The FA also won’t be punishing Chelsea for making a false accusation as they are obliged by law to take seriously any accusation of one of their employees. The only person who is set to be punished is Mikel, who reportedly said “I will break your f**king legs!” to Clattenburg in his office after the game.

However, Alan Leighton, the national secretary of the referees’ union Prospect, has called on Chelsea to apologise and pay compensation.

“The charge was based on the flimsiest evidence that should never have got to this stage,” he said. “It should never have been made public and should have been dealt with confidentially. We are not criticising Chelsea because they investigated the complaint – they had a duty of care. Rather the evidence consisted of just one statement and that is why they shouldn’t have gone public.”

There is no denying that Clattenburg’s reputation has been damaged by this and it is likely that he will get stick from fans in the future. Arsene Wenger echoed similar thoughts to Leighton, claiming the situation should have been dealt with in house.

In an ideal world, it is safe to assume Chelsea would have preferred that too. After the John Terry case, the last thing they will have wanted is another issue related to racism. However, due to the confrontation after the game, in an office which is based very close to where the journalists were waiting post-match, Chelsea had no choice but to make it public. Before even releasing a statement, football fans on Twitter were discussing the rumour that Chelsea players had accused the referee of racism.

Can you imagine if Chelsea didn’t make the allegation public and didn’t release a statement, only for the back pages of the newspapers the following day to report on it? After receiving plenty of criticism for not taking the captaincy off Terry despite the FA finding him guilty of racial abuse, can you imagine what would be said of them if they tried to keep Mikel’s claims quiet? They would be accused yet again of not taking racism seriously.

Ramires should probably do the decent thing and apologise to Clattenburg though. Whether his complaint was malicious or not is irrelevant. Whether he intended to or not, Ramires has damaged Clattenburg’s reputation and accused him of something awful, so apologising shouldn’t be beyond him. However, if Chelsea are to pay damages to Clattenburg, it would suggest that they have done something wrong, when in reality, they had little choice but to act the way they did.

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Nov 222012

The FA have today confirmed that they will not be taking any action against Mark Clattenburg after Chelsea FC made allegations about inappropriate language they claimed he used.

Initially, two complaints were put in, with it being reported that one of the players had heard Clattenburg call Juan Mata a “Spanish tw*t”, whilst Ramires claimed that the referee said “shut up you monkey” to John Obi Mikel

Mikel was much closer to the referee than Ramires was at the time of the interaction and heard nothing. The other match officials, who could hear everything through their communication equipment, were adamant the alleged words were not uttered, and there was nothing in the video footage to support the allegation either.

As there was no evidence to support Ramires claim, and evidence to contradict it, the FA believe that Clattenburg doesn’t have a case to answer. However, more importantly for Chelsea fans, they will be relieved to hear that the FA don’t plan to take any action against Ramires either, believing he made the accusation in “good faith”.

However, reports in the press the next day claimed that things became very heated in the referee’s room after the game. Mikel confronted Clattenburg and the officials with Roberto Di Matteo, then assistant manager Eddie Newton and chief executive Ron Gourlay. “I’m going to f**king break your legs!” was heard directed at Clattenburg before security had to intervene like “bouncers at a pub brawl”. Mikel has been charged by the FA for this incident.

“To know you were innocent of something but that there was the opportunity for it to wreck your career was truly frightening,” Clattenburg said. He has been unable to officiate any game since the allegation was made and will presumably be looking forward to getting back to work. However, it’s likely that he will be given a hard time by the fans now. You can only imagine the chants that some fans will sing every time he books a black player. Clattenburg is innocent but football fans don’t half enjoy a wind up, however inappropriate it may be.

Nov 022012

Following Sunday’s match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge, it emerged that the home team had made an allegation against referee Mark Clattenburg. As time went by, reports revealed that Chelsea were claiming Clattenburg called John Obi Mikel a “monkey” and Juan Mata a “Spanish twat”. However, these players didn’t hear this on the field, but were informed by their team mates who claimed they did hear it, David Luiz and Ramires. Neither of these players have a great grasp of English so there have been some suggestions that they misheard what the referee said, with it seeming inconceivable that an official would do such a thing, particularly with anti-racism awareness at a peak in football.

However, you would have thought it would be inconceivable that an England captain would racially abuse an opponent on the pitch too, before John Terry did it, so anything is possible. Whilst it seems highly unlikely that a referee would say the things he’s been accused of, the situation has to be investigated appropriately and the truth needs to come out.

Everybody is entitled to an opinion and I would think even most Chelsea fans are struggling to get their head around the idea a referee abused two of their players. The likelihood is this is all one big misunderstanding, not that Clattenburg is guilty and not that Chelsea players have maliciously invented these accusations.

With the investigation still pending, Premier League managers have been asked their opinion on the situation. Whilst the most sensible response would be to refuse to comment or express the need to wait until the facts have emerged, the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger have waded in offering their full support to Clattenburg, whilst also being critical of Chelsea for their handling of the situation.

“I don’t believe he would make comments like that,” said Ferguson. “I refuse to believe it. It’s unthinkable. There is not a referee who would stoop to that. I’m convinced by that.”

To give an opinion and suggest it is unlikely a referee would do such a thing is reasonable enough but to categorically rule out any possibility of it happening is wrong. If Rafael da Silva said he heard the referee call Ashley Young a “monkey” during Sunday’s game, would Ferguson be saying the same thing? What would he make of Roberto Di Matteo dismissing the allegations out of hand without having any evidence to hand? Ferguson himself may think Rafael must have misheard and would likely try to deal with the situation in a more private way initially, but surely he would want the allegations to be investigated, and therefore believe there was a tiny possibility of it being true. Club bias should not dictate opinion on racial issues as the colour of someone’s shirt has no impact on the truth.

Arsene Wenger has chosen to criticise Chelsea for their response to the allegation and believes the West London club should have solved the dispute behind closed doors.

“My opinion is that I prefer, when I didn’t behave well, that I have an explanation with the referee at the end of the game, or on another day, than going public with little proof,” Wenger said. “I’m not a great believer in making these stories public. One of the great things in sports is tolerance, forgiveness and explanation internally and I think it should stay like that. It can happen that a referee doesn’t behave well. I do not say they are angels, but it is always better to sort it out in the room. My deep feeling is that I have not always completely behaved very well in this situation, because they are very heated situations. But I am a deep supporter of doing that [dealing with it] internally. For example, the last two nights were great adverts for football and that is absolutely fantastic. For the rest, I believe one of the great things in sport, as well is the battle when it is on in football, especially in England, is you can sort out the problems you had internally. If it becomes a sport to make the lawyers rich, I am not a fan of it.”

If Chelsea Football Club believe that two of their players have been racially abused, why should they keep it quiet? When Patrice Evra walked off the pitch at Anfield last year he was immediately interviewed by French television and revealed what Luis Suarez had called him. Is it not your right to do this?

This is a very messy situation and if not for the tribal nature of football, all Chelsea fans would agree it was highly unlikely anything untoward took place on Sunday, however, that does not rule out the possibility of it happening. Without all the evidence available, it is still perfectly reasonable to form an opinion based on probability, but you’re on dangerous ground to give 100% of your support. Look where Kenny Dalglish ended up!

After the Terry and Ferdinand case took a year to resolve, thanks to the unnecessary intervention of the CPS, hopefully this latest racist allegation is resolved more promptly and, even more importantly, that Clattenburg is innocent. If Clattenburg was to be found guilty, not only would it have a damaging impact on the game, but on the reputations of those who have backed him.

Oct 302012

You would have been forgiven for thinking the biggest controversies from Sunday’s game at Stamford Bridge involved the timing of Fernando Torres’ red card and Javier Hernandez’s offside goal, but hours after the final whistle, Chelsea confirmed they had lodged a formal complaint against referee Mark Clattenburg for “inappropriate language” directed at two of their players.

Whilst nothing official has been confirmed, the reported allegation is that Clattenburg called Juan Mata a “Spanish tw*t” and John Obi Mikel a “monkey”.

It has also been reported that neither of the players heard these insults personally but were told of them by their team mates. Oriol Romeu has confirmed Mata only found out about the alleged insults after the game.

“Neither Juan nor Fernando told me they heard it because from what I have understood they didn’t hear anything,” said Romeu. “It was someone else who heard it, but not directly at them. It was another player who heard it and that is what they told me. I didn’t hear anything as I left quickly to go home but after talking to Juan he told me there was some problem and he had to stay. I only know Chelsea made a complaint and I think there could really be a problem if what Chelsea players say happened really happened. If there was really a racist comment or something said against a Spanish player this will be serious. We know in this country people are very vigilant about these issues.”

The names being mentioned as those who heard the insults and passed the information on are David Luiz and Ramires. As the videos below show, neither of these players have a strong grasp of English, if any at all, which adds doubt to the likelihood of them hearing what they say they did. It is also incredible to think that a referee, whose mic can be heard by three other officials, would use racist language on the pitch. That would be hard to believe in any scenario, let alone right now, when the awareness of racism in football is at a peak. However, something being unlikely doesn’t mean it is untrue, as the FA found when determining John Terry was guilty racist abuse when he was England captain. This incident has to be taken seriously and investigated thoroughly. Whilst you would like to think there is nothing sinister behind the allegations, that frustrated Chelsea players didn’t seek revenge for what they believed to be a poor performance from the referee, at this stage, without all the information at hand, the most likely explanation would be a misunderstanding from the Brazilian players. It is puzzling that Ramires and Luiz heard the insults but Mikel and Mata did not.

With the insults apparently taking place on the pitch, Mikel confronted Clattenburg after the game in his office, along with manager Roberto Di Matteo, assistant manager Eddie Newton and chief executive Ron Gourlay.

Clattenburg, his assistants and fourth official are understood to have been stunned by the claims, with Michael McDonough, Simon Long and Michael Jones denying hearing anything of that nature over the officials’ microphone link-up.

Some reports this morning have claimed the exchange was like a “pub brawl” and the threat “I’ll break your f**king legs!” being directed at Clattenburg. Whilst there is the possibility of consequences for the referee, it’s hard to imagine that Chelsea will avoid punishment for their reaction, if the reports in today’s papers are accurate.

Clattenburg filed his match report, including details of the exchange after the match in an “extraordinary incident form”, and the FA have begun their investigations. Clattenburg will today formally deny the allegations when he meets with the FA.

All in all, this is a very strange story and hopefully one that is resolved quickly. Clattenburg will not be officiating any games this weekend, not as a punishment, but to keep him out of the limelight. With just trickles of information available at present, it’s hard to form much of an opinion, but the FA will be closer to working out what actually happened after meeting with Clattenburg today.

Oct 292012

Chelsea FC have lodged a complaint against referee Mark Clattenburg for using “inappropriate language” against two of their players. Reports claim that Clattenburg called Juan Mata a “Spanish twat” and more shockingly, called John Obi Mikel a “monkey”.

With these comments set to be investigated, it’s interesting to see that Clattenburg doesn’t have a blemish free past, and has courted plenty of controversy in his career so far.

1. Clattenburg suspended – August 2008
Mark Clattenburg was suspended pending enquiries into reports regarding his alleged debts. The Football Association and referees’ body Professional Game Match Officials Ltd acted after allegations relating to debts of companies connected to him. Clattenburg was set to take charge of the FA Community Shield clash between Manchester United and Portsmouth but was replaced by Peter Walton.

A joint statement from the FA and PGMO read: “PGMO is aware of media reports concerning alleged debts incurred by companies connected to referee Mark Clattenburg. It has been decided he will not officiate any matches pending enquiries into the background to these reports.”

Clattenburg’s firm MC Electrical Retail NE Ltd was wound up under the Insolvency Act on 27 June, Newcastle County Court confirmed. Friend and business associate John Hepworth took legal action in a bid to recover a debt reported to be almost £60,000. In May, Mr Hepworth served Clattenburg’s firm with legal papers demanding £59,589.

2. Doing as Gerrard tells him – October 2007
Mark Clattenburg awarded Liverpool a penalty after he judged Tony Hibbert had brought down Steven Gerrard in the box. Clattenburg pulled out a yellow card to book the Everton man, before Gerrard had a go at him, leading Clattenburg to put his yellow card away and replace it with a red one.

“The referee went to book Tony Hibbert holding a yellow card, Steven Gerrard walked past him (the referee) and it changed to a red,” said Alan Stubbs. “We saw the replays. That’s disappointing. We were 1-0 at half-time and on top, we had control of the game.”

Clattenburg was given a weekend off officiating following this incident.

3. Yellow card for double leg-break – February 2002
After failing to send off Stockport County defender Dave Challinor for a foul on Martin Pringle where the player’s leg was broken in two places and his career effectively ended, Clattenburg opted to give only a yellow card to Challinor. He then sent off Stockport’s then player-manager Carlton Palmer for dissent after arguing that his own player should have been sent off!

4. That Nani goal against Tottenham – October 2010

5. Clattenburg criticises Bellamy – December 2009
During a game between Manchester City and Bolton, City personnel alleged that at half-time, Clattenburg asked members of their bench: “How do you work with Craig Bellamy all week?” In the second half that followed, he booked Bellamy twice, once for dissent and then for diving, although replays suggested he was actually fouled.