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Police told of Bridge race row

MARK Clattenburg and the English Football Association were today both waiting to discover whether police would investigate allegations the referee used "inappropriate language" towards Chelsea stars John Obi Mikel and Juan Mata.

Clattenburg yesterday became the latest high-profile football figure to find himself the subject of an FA probe over on-field comments after the European champions made a formal complaint about what are understood to have been interpreted as racist remarks during their defeat to Manchester United on Sunday.

The 37-year-old was also stood down from officiating for a week but it was the involvement of the police that would have been of most cause for concern.

The man behind the mooted black players' breakaway union, Peter Herbert, sent a letter to the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), which read: "The Society of Black Lawyers wishes to record the incident that took place at Chelsea FC.

"Our information is that racist remarks were directed at John Mikel Obi and at Juan Mata. If so, that is wholly unacceptable in any circumstances.

"Although this matter may be investigated by the FA, it is appropriate that the MPS independently see if a racially-aggravated offence has occurred."

The police confirmed they had received what they described as a "complaint" and were considering it.

They said in a statement: "On the afternoon of 29 October, the Metropolitan Police received a complaint relating to the Chelsea v Man Utd match on 28 October.

"This is now being considered.

"Officers from Hammersmith & Fulham borough have been in contact with Chelsea Football Club today regarding the widely-reported club referral of the referee's behaviour to the Football Association.

"At this time, the Metropolitan Police has not received any complaint from either Chelsea Football Club or the Football Association.

"We will work in partnership with Chelsea Football Club and the Football Association in order to consider any allegation that is made in relation to the reported events."

It was unclear whether Mikel, Mata or Chelsea welcomed police involvement but they could be forgiven for being wary of it in the wake of the John Terry scandal.

Any criminal investigation would also pile the pressure on the FA, who will be desperate to avoid another lengthy racism saga after shelving their own investigation into Terry while he faced criminal charges.

Their action yesterday followed the receipt of the match delegate's report, as well as an 'extraordinary incident report' from Clattenburg himself. These are submitted by referees on matters that may require FA intervention.

The investigation prompted Clattenburg's bosses at Professional Game Match Officials to omit him from games this weekend.

Clattenburg, who vowed on Sunday to co-operate fully with any investigation, was promised the "full support" of the referees' union.

Prospect added in a statement: "It is now important that the allegations are fully investigated through the proper process as quickly as possible."

That process looks set to involve Clattenburg, Mikel and Mata all being interviewed by FA compliance officers, who are likely to speak to other potential witnesses.

Chelsea made it clear to the FA today they believed they had no option but to file a complaint about the referee Mark Clattenburg and that they did so fully cognisant of the serious nature of the racial element to their case.

The decision to report Clattenburg for two incidents of "inappropriate language" -- one of which was made to John Obi Mikel -- was taken at the highest executive level by the club, with the knowledge of chairman, Bruce Buck, and chief executive, Ron Gourlay.

In private, the club are aware that their complaint has been dismissed in some quarters as retaliation for the FA charges laid against John Terry earlier this year but they are adamant that their case is justified.


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