Monday 20 January 2020

Referees union demands apology and cash from Chelsea after Clattenburg cleared of racially abusing Mikel

Sam Wallace

Mark Clattenburg's union Prospect has called on Chelsea to apologise to the referee and pay him compensation after the Football Association decided that he had no case to answer over allegations of racist abuse.

Clattenburg's representative, Alan Leighton, said that the charge was based on the "flimsiest of evidence" and said the club should never have gone public on the allegations made by midfielder Ramires that the referee had said "shut up, you monkey" to John Obi Mikel.

However, the FA cleared Chelsea of any malicious wrongdoing in bringing the complaint after the game at Stamford Bridge against Manchester United on 28 October, despite saying the testimony of chief witness Ramires had not crossed "the evidential threshold required to bring a charge."

In a judgement that will have come as some relief to the club, the FA said the allegation was "made in good faith."

"In this case, the player and club were correct in reporting the matter to the FA and it was appropriate and proper for such an allegation to be thoroughly investigated."

The FA said: "It is entirely possible for a witness to be genuinely mistaken and convincing in his belief. The FA receives and investigates numerous allegations of misconduct over the course of a season.


"All allegations are properly investigated. It is not uncommon for investigations to lead to no disciplinary charge being brought."

Leighton, though, insisted: "The charge was based on the flimsiest evidence and should never have got to this stage. 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."

He called on Chelsea to make donations to charity as well as pay Clattenburg. However, there was no demand from Clattenburg personally for an apology from Chelsea.

Mikel was charged with misconduct by the FA for his abuse of Clattenburg in the referee's room after the game. Chelsea said that the player does not deny the charge but will request a personal hearing "to explain the mitigating circumstances."

In light of the episode, the referees' body, PGMOL (Professional Game Match Officials) said it would now record all the dialogue transmitted on headsets between referees and their assistants in order to clarify any possible future complaints. The recordings will not be made public.

In the aftermath of the announcement that there would be no charges, Clattenburg said that no referee should be subject in the future to allegations about him being made public before the disciplinary process was complete.

"To know you were innocent of something, but that there was the opportunity for it to wreck your career was truly frightening," he said.

"Racism has no place in football and this experience should not discourage those to speak out if they genuinely believe they are a victim of abuse. However, there are processes that should be adhered in order that any investigation can be carried out in a manner that is fair for all parties involved.

"I know first-hand the ramifications of allegations of this nature being placed into the public domain ahead of a formal process and investigation. I hope no referee has to go through this in the future."

The FA laid out a detailed chronology of their investigation, in which Ramires, Mikel and other players, understood to include Ashley Cole, were interviewed. Ramires was interviewed twice, the second time to view previously unseen footage. His evidence was considered by the FA to be "contradicted by other witnesses" and "not supported by any other evidence".

The FA confirmed that Mikel – "who was much closer to the referee" – did not hear anything and the three officials connected to Clattenburg by headsets were "adamant the alleged words were not uttered".

The FA said that it encouraged players to report discriminatory abuse.

Clattenburg said that he intended to return to refereeing.

"We are all fortunate to be working in the world's most watched and scrutinised football league," he said. "With that comes a responsibility in regard to how the different parts of the game work together. What has happened over the last few weeks should not overshadow the fact the on-pitch relationship between match officials, players and managers is the best we've ever had."

Chelsea said they had a "duty of care" to report the complaint and had no option other than to do so, providing 11 witness statements.

They said "We... welcome the fact that the FA recognises the club and players were correct in reporting the matter." (© Independent News Service)

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