Mikel hit with three-match suspension
Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel has been handed a three-game ban following the Blues' stormy Premier League match against Manchester United on October 28.
Mikel had already admitted a charge that he confronted referee Mark Clattenburg in the official's changing room after the game, ahead of yesterday's personal hearing.
The decision by the Independent Regulatory Commission revealed that the sanction, which included a £60,000 fine, would have been "significantly longer" but for the fact Mikel had believed he had been racially abused by Clattenburg.
Mikel, who signed a new five-year deal on Wednesday, will miss tomorrow's trip to Sunderland but will be available when Chelsea jet out for the Club World Cup in Japan next week. His availability when the Blues return from the Far East could be limited though, with the midfielder due to meet up with Nigeria early in the new year for the African Nations Cup. Mikel would be unavailable until February 10 should Nigeria reach the final.
New boss Rafael Benitez appeared to begin preparations for his absence on Wednesday night when he employed David Luiz in midfield at stages of the 6-1 Champions League win over FC Nordsjaelland.