Chelsea regret handling of Clattenburg racist complaint
Chelsea have expressed regret over their handling of aspects of the racist abuse complaint lodged against Mark Clattenburg, with all seeking to draw a line under the controversy.
Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck had met Clattenburg at St George’s Park on Monday, discussing the issue with all 16 of the elite referees, Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) general manager Mike Riley, and Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore.
Those talks were deemed as frank but constructive, with a joint statement duly issued by the club, PGMOL and the Premier League in which Chelsea admitted they should have “given more consideration” before making their allegation public.
The English Football Association determined last week that no charges would be brought against Clattenburg after investigating a claim by Chelsea’s Ramires that he had heard the official describe Mikel John Obi as “a monkey” during the 3-2 defeat by Manchester United on October 28th.
The club had confirmed in the immediate aftermath of that game that they had lodged a complaint to the Premier League match delegate, alleging “inappropriate language used by the referee and directed at two of our players”.
They made a formal complaint to the FA the following week over the incident with Mikel, but dropped their accusation over comments allegedly made towards Juan Mata.
“There was a constructive and open discussion,” read the joint statement. “The club regrets not having given more consideration before issuing a statement on the evening of Sunday, October 28th. The club also regrets the subsequent impact the intense media scrutiny had on Mark Clattenburg and his family. The referees accept that, given Chelsea had received a good faith claim from one of their employees, the club had an obligation under FA rules to report the allegation.”
The statement fell short of the public apology demanded by the referees’ union, Prospect, with Chelsea conscious that Ramires resolutely stands by his original testimony and that the FA welcomed the manner in which the club followed the formal process with their complaint. The PGMOL has also accepted the club followed protocol in lodging their complaint once their employee had made his claim.
Yet there has been recognition within the club’s hierarchy of the personal pressures placed on Clattenburg, who had always denied any wrongdoing but had been omitted from the referees’ roster for the four weekends since the game at Stamford Bridge while the FA conducted its inquiry.
Having been fourth official for Tottenham Hotspur’s victory over West Ham on Sunday, he takes charge of tonight’s game between Southampton and Norwich at St Mary’s.
Buck stressed that the club saw no problem with the 37-year-old officiating games involving Chelsea. “There was recognition by all parties that the . . . integrity of refereeing in this country remains paramount,” noted the statement.
“Chelsea made it clear they would welcome Mark Clattenburg back to Stamford Bridge . . . PGMOL would have no issue in appointing him to a Chelsea FC match.