Tuesday, October 30, 2012


When midfielder John Obi Mikel stormed into the referee’s room on Sunday evening, he believed he had every right to be angry with Mark Clattenburg.

Chelsea had made a stand, wearing Kick It Out’s ‘One Game One Community’ T-shirts before one of the most prestigious fixtures in the Barclays Premier League.

It was a fresh start, with handshakes all round and an anti-racism badge pinned to John Terry’s jacket on the sidelines as he continued to serve a four-match ban for racially insulting QPR' s Anton Ferdinand.

What followed is in danger of dragging the game back into the gutter, sparking bitter recrimination and, for the first time in the professional game’s history in England, an allegation of racism against a referee.

Details of the dialogue that is alleged to have taken place between Mikel and Clattenburg that led to the 76th-minute incident which the Chelsea players claim to have heard has been reportedly revealed.

Mikel responded after team-mates David Luiz and Ramires told him they believed he had been racially abused by the FIFA official moments after he was booked at Stamford Bridge.

Mikel did not hear the alleged abuse, but Ramires and Luiz are prepared to make statements saying they did.

In the explosive scenes that followed the final whistle, Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo and chief executive Ron Gourlay had to stop Mikel attacking Clattenburg during the confrontation.

Heated conversations between Mikel and the referee had begun when Fernando Torres was sent off after being booked for ‘aggressive simulation’.

The central midfielder continued to cross swords with Clattenburg during the next few frantic minutes as he demanded an explanation for the decision.

Mikel wanted to know why Torres had been booked for a second time when Chelsea’s players were convinced he had been caught by Jonny Evans on his way through on goal in the 68th minute. 

When Clattenburg told Mikel to keep quiet and to get on with the game, the former Lyn Oslo midfielder continued to protest.

The dismissal of Torres had reduced Chelsea to nine men, coming on top of the 63rd-minute red card for Branislav Ivanovic, and emotions were running high.
When Torres was sent off, Di Matteo and Sir Alex Ferguson clashed on the touchline as coaching staff from both clubs spilled into the technical area. Clattenburg appeared to have the game under control again until the moment Javier Hernandez scored United’s winner from an offside position in the 75th minute.

As United celebrated near the corner of the West Stand and Matthew Harding Stand, some Chelsea supporters threw coins and a seat on to the field.

Clattenburg soon restored order but Mikel was in his ear again and making the same complaints, saying the decision to send off Torres was the reason Chelsea would lose the game.

Clattenburg booked him for dissent in the 76th minute and it is at this moment that Ramires and Luiz allege they heard the midfielder being racially abused by a referee who is known for having a dismissive and patronising tone when he talks to players about their behaviour.

Mikel was immediately told about the allegation, but decided to wait until after the game to confront Clattenburg with the claims.

Following the angry scenes in the referee’s room, witnessed by Clattenburg’s assistants Michael McDonough and Simon Long, Chelsea discussed the incident at length. 

During those discussions, Gourlay decided to press ahead with a complaint to match delegate Nick Cusack and arranged for some of the details to be made public at 7.45 that evening.

Chelsea’s deliberations were the reason for the delay between the final whistle and Di Matteo’s appearance at his post-match press briefing.

Mikel has since told team-mates he intends to pursue the matter and they have agreed to provide statements to the FA if asked.

Clattenburg, as required by the FA, then filed details of an ‘extraordinary incident’ at Stamford Bridge overnight.

On Monday morning he received communication from the FA’s compliance team as they prepared for a swift investigation into the remarkable allegation.

Mikel was taken away from the corridor that leads to the tunnel so the media, separated from the dressing-room areas by the width of a wall, could not hear what was said. 

Chelsea have also confirmed a separate incident, understood to involve Juan Mata, after claims that Clattenburg called him ‘a Spanish t**t’.

Mata is an astute and intelligent professional and, according to sources at the club, he was visibly shocked when he heard Clattenburg’s insult.

Chelsea’s position had not changed on Monday night and the incident was the talk of their Cobham training ground in Surrey during the day.

Many of the players were in for a light session after the 3-2 defeat against United and they eagerly discussed Clattenburg’s behaviour.

Although the players are ready for another FA investigation, it is understood that Manchester United are unable to help with their enquiries.

Most of their players have been asked if they heard — or were made aware of — either incident, but they are unable to provide any assistance.


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