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.

Nov 012012

Following the FA finding John Terry guilty of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand and Chelsea lodging a formal complaint against alleged racist remarks made by referee Mark Clattenburg on Sunday, the last thing Chelsea would have wanted to see in this morning’s paper is another racist incident linked to their club.

The pictures above were taken during Chelsea’s 5-4 victory over Manchester United in the Capital One Cup and clearly show a Chelsea fan making a monkey gesture at Danny Welbeck after he failed to control the ball and let it run out of play.

Much was made of the anti-racism tone in Terry’s captain’s notes in Sunday’s programme, given the player is currently serving a ban for racially abusing an opponent.

“This is our dedicated match for the Kick It Out One Game, One Community campaign. We continue to be committed to eradicating all forms of discrimination from our game and creating a great atmosphere around the stadium.”

It doesn’t appear as though some Chelsea fans have taken Terry’s statement very seriously.

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 082012

Commission conclusion

– It’s not just “highly unlikely” that Ferdinand accused Terry of calling him a “black cunt”, but that he did not, because in the brief time that it took Ferdinand to advance up the pitch towards Terry, why would the focus of Ferdinand’s abuse and insults of Terry have changed so quickly from an allegation of an affair, to one involving skin colour, or race.

– Terry and Cole did not hear, and could not have believed, understood or misunderstood Ferdinand to have used the word “black”, or any word(s) that might have suggested that he was accusing Terry of racially abusing him.

– There is no credible basis for Terry’s defence that his use of the words “fucking black cunt” were directed at Ferdinand by way of forceful rejection and/or inquiry. Instead, we are quite satisfied, and find on the balance of probabilities, that the offending words were said by way of insult.

Reasons for commission conclusion

Unnatural verbal response to supposed accusation
– As the Chief Magistrate observed, the words “fucking black cunt” were sandwiched between two admitted insults. Those words were preceded by “fuck off, fuck off”, and followed by “fucking knobhead”. It seems inherently unlikely that if he had been accused by Ferdinand of calling him something that ended with the words “black cunt”, that Terry would have added the word “fucking” when he threw the words back, if he was genuinely doing so by way of forceful denial. It is also inherently improbable, that a denial of such a serious allegation would then be followed by an insulting sexual reference directed at Ferdinand (i.e. “fucking knobhead”).

– His repetition of words that Terry claims were said to him first by Ferdinand is implausible if they were really intended to be a robust denial. A much more likely reaction would have been “I didn’t call you a black cunt”, or at least to have prefaced the words “fucking black cunt” with “are you saying that I called you?”, or something similar. Instead, the words “black cunt” are simply repeated on Terry’s case, with the word “fucking” added at the beginning, and a question-mark at the end to be inferred. A much more plausible and likely explanation is that Terry was angry at Ferdinand’s taunting and provocation of him, at the way the match had gone, and at the way in which it seemed likely to end. The much more likely explanation for what he said is that all of this provoked him into saying “fucking black cunt” as an insult, which is consistent with the fact that insults preceded and followed those words.

Unnatural physical response to supposed accusation
– In the critical phase, during which he uses the words “fucking black cunt”, Terry can be seen to be smiling initially, before his facial expression changes to disdainful and contemptuous. At no point is his demeanour and facial expression that of someone who is imploring, injured, or even quizzical in the face of an unfounded allegation by Ferdinand that Terry had just been racially abusive towards Ferdinand. This was an allegation, apparently, that had never previously been levelled at Terry. Anger is a conceivable reaction to such an accusation, but at no time does Terry convey any sense of “No, I didn’t” with his facial expression, or body language.

– Terry’s anger manifested itself again in what remained of the match. A few minutes later he had an altercation with the QPR goalkeeper, Paddy Kenney during which Terry said: “You fucking cunt, you fucking cheeky cunt”. Those words were accompanied by gestures from Terry, namely puffing out his cheeks out and putting his arms out. This was a reference to another physical characteristic, namely to suggest that Kenney was overweight.

Unnatural post-match response to supposed accusation
– Terry made no attempt to confront Ferdinand when the game ended. Instead, he went to acknowledge the support of the Chelsea fans. If he genuinely believed that he had been the victim of an unjustified accusation of the serious type alleged, it is very surprising that Terry left it for approximately an hour after the match before he requested a meeting with Ferdinand. The Commission cannot speculate as to what may have transpired during that hour or so, apart from the likely realisation on Terry’s part that what he said may well have been caught on camera and be a source of trouble for him. When they did speak after the game, Ferdinand’s unchallenged evidence is that the first thing Terry said to him was “What happened?” This is telling. Without first speaking to Ferdinand, and asking that question, Terry could not have known what Ferdinand heard or knew, and whether he intended to pursue matters further.

New evidence which allowed FA to pursue case after verdict in court and therefore not a contradiction of paragraph 6.8 of FA rules
1. Terry’s untruthful account about his sending off against Barcelona

On 24th April 2012, Terry was sent off during the second leg of the European Champions League semi-final match between Barcelona and Chelsea. Film footage of the match clearly shows that he deliberately ‘kneed’ a Barcelona player, Alexis Sanchez, in the back of his legs when play was elsewhere. The FA rely on comments that Terry is said to have made immediately after he left the field of play, but which he subsequently had to retract. According to a Guardian newspaper report of the same date, Terry told a touchline reporter: “The player checked his run and piled into the back of me. He put his weight on the back foot, that’s why my knee went up.”

Following the match, after viewing video replays of the incident, Terry is reported to have made the following statement:

“I’ve seen the replay and it does look bad. I’m not that type of player to intentionally hurt anyone. I’ve raised my knee which I maybe shouldn’t have done in hindsight. But hopefully people who know me as a person, as a player [know] I’m not that type of player. …”

This shows that the incident involving Ferdinand is not the only time that Terry has been untruthful about what happened on a football pitch.

This incident undermines those of Terry’s character witnesses who suggest that he has preternatural reserves of self-control. His actions in a crucial Champions League semi-final show that he is capable of losing his self-control. It was also a significant lapse of judgment for a player and captain which his post-match statement recognises. Those are matters that are relevant to our overall assessment of his disposition, demeanour and conduct during the critical phase of the match against QPR.

2. Cole’s change in testimony

Ashley Cole‟s evidence has evolved and that the word “black” was introduced retrospectively into the witness statement that he provided to the FA, with a view to bolstering Terry’s claim that the words that Terry spoke to Ferdinand were not said by way of an insult, but as repetition and forceful denial of what Ferdinand had accused him of saying. The FA pointed to an exchange of e-mails that took place between the FA and Chelsea’s Club Secretary, David Barnard, in which requests were made, on behalf of Cole, to amend his witness statements.

The Commission’s view of this new evidence is that it casts considerable doubt over Cole’s claim that he heard, or could have heard, Ferdinand use the word “black” when the latter insulted Terry with words and gestures. The new evidence undermines Cole’s corroboration for Terry’s claim that when he used the words “fucking black cunt”, he did so by way of forceful rejection/inquiry.

On October 28th (five days after the match), Cole was interviewed by the FA. Both Jenni Kennedy (Head of FA Off-Field Regulation) and Adam Sanhaie (her colleague) made handwritten notes of the interview of Cole.

In Kennedy’s notes: Definitely a “B” word – could have been “Bridge”? but I don’t know for sure.

In Sanhaie’s notes: Saw gesture heard “b” word said, but not sure what saying. AF was making gesture re having sex. The gesture was aimed at JT. Think ref was to JT activities – heard “B” word but not sure what the word was. Def “B” word. At same time as made gesture.

The first draft of Cole’s witness statement was sent to Cole by e-mail on November 2nd. The following day, Chelsea’s club secretary, Dave Bernand, replied to this e-mail saying: He wishes to add the words “Black or” before the word “Bridge”.

Kennedy gave oral evidence to the Commission. She was adamant that if the word “black” had been said she would have noted it. Having regard to the context of the interview, it would be very surprising if she had not, and even more surprising if her colleague had also failed to do so.

The Chief Magistrate did not have the interview notes of the FA’s Interviewers and they do not appear in his judgment. Accordingly, that material can and should properly be regarded as cogent new evidence. Had it been before him, the Commission has no doubt that the Chief Magistrate would have examined Cole’s evidence as to what he claims he heard Ferdinand say to Terry on the pitch very carefully indeed, or scrutinised it even more closely than he may have done. Like the Commission, the issues that have arisen would have informed his view as to whether Cole’s evidence was capable of providing reliable corroboration for Terry’s case. On the evidence before us, the Commission has considerable doubts in that regard.

BFTGT summary

Cole and Terry supported Ferdinand’s claim that he made reference to Terry’s affair with Wayne Bridge’s girlfriend. Cole supports the claim that Ferdinand made a sexual gesture and a “B” word and suggested that the “B” word was Bridge. This is a logical explanation of what Ferdinand was saying.

It is not logical or believable that Ferdinand, whilst making a sexual gesture, would be making an accusation of racial abuse. It is not logical or believable that Terry would presume that in the midst of a conversation about Bridge that Ferdinand suddenly made an accusation of racial abuse.

If Terry genuinely believed that Ferdinand made this accusation, it is not logical that Terry would respond to this accusation with a stream of insults and swear words, and not question Ferdinand for saying this or, more importantly, deny the accusation.

Terry’s defence hinged on his claim that he thought Ferdinand had accused him of calling him a “black cunt”. When Kennedy and Sanhaie interviewed Cole, any reference to the word “black” certainly would have been noted. This is a case about racial abuse so any mention of race would have stood out. Given the context, to suggest that one person missed Cole saying the word “black” is fairly ridiculous, considering how important that word is in this case, but to suggest that two people did is ludicrous. You would have to presume that Cole does not believe Terry is a racist and maybe he even believes Terry’s versions of events, but it is clear that he changed his testimony under the advice of Terry or the club, as a way to strengthen Terry’s defence. If Cole thought it was possible that Ferdinand mouthed the words “black” in Terry’s direction, he would have made this clear in his interview. It doesn’t make sense that Cole would have forgotten that he saw this and it doesn’t make sense that if he did mention it, that both Kennedy and Sanhaie didn’t hear it. His petulant outburst on Twitter fools no one. It’s important to note that, even if this story change had been mentioned in court, the verdict would have been no difference. The only thing this revelation has an impact on is Cole’s reputation.

The chief magistrate deemed that Terry was not guilty because nobody could prove he was lying. That is the way the legal system works and it obviously has to work in that way. Whilst evidence can point you to certain conclusions and those conclusions could be correct 99% of the time, when there is any room for error it clearly would be wrong to convict people without that conclusive evidence.

However, Terry’s story doesn’t make sense and no one in their right mind can accept his version as truth. Several people were drafted in to court to claim that Terry has an incredible amount of self-restraint, that he never reacts to provocation, making it impossible for Terry to have lost his cool and snapped at Loftus Road, despite the fact he received a red card for doing exactly that just a couple of months earlier. His immediate reaction was to lie about what happened on the pitch, until he saw the conclusive video footage which showed he was lying. In the case with Ferdinand, the footage wasn’t conclusive, which is why he was found not guilty, but it should be clear to all that this case falls in the 99% bracket, not the 1%, because of the preposterous nature of Terry’s defence. His explanation for saying the words “black cunt” quite simply doesn’t make any sense, which is why it was easy for the commission to deem him guilty.

Terry called Ferdinand a “black cunt” because he was angry and it was the first insult that came to mind, just like he was angry with Kenny and his weight was the first insult that came to mind. This is the obvious conclusion to be drawn from all the evidence available to the commission.

Some things are more important than football and any Chelsea fan trying to convince themselves that Terry, Cole and their club haven’t behaved badly here should be ashamed of themselves. If Joey Barton replaced Terry and Cole replaced Ferdinand in this scenario, I wonder how many of them would have the same opinions. Likely, none of them. Football is tribal, no doubt, but people need to see the bigger picture on some issues. The fact that Terry and Cole’s names were loudly sung from the stands at Stamford Bridge this weekend suggests that Chelsea fans have no intention of removing their heads from the sand though, and they join the players and the club in showing themselves up.

Read the report in full
John Terry and Ashley Cole have shamed Chelsea and England
Chelsea’s Toxic Twins John Terry and Ashley Cole are an embarrassment to the game and their peers
FA may investigate how the word ‘black’ got into Chelsea star’s statement

Jun 282012

Following penalty misses from Ashley Young and Ashley Cole in England’s defeat to Italy at Euro 2012, Twitter was littered with some moronic England fans racially abusing them.

All the tweets have been deleted and some users have blocked their accounts but the police are investigating complaints made.

The FA have then released a statement condemning the behaviour of these fans. It read: “We are concerned at the reports regarding allegations of abuse aimed at England players Ashley Cole and Ashley Young on Twitter. They have just given everything for the national team at Euro 2012 and it is appalling and unacceptable that messages of an abusive type are being posted. We support any police investigation in identifying who is behind this.”

That is great. They need to come out with a strong message saying racism is wrong. But maybe they needed this sort of clarity before now.

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