Shocked Clattenburg to deny claims
SOCCER:MARK CLATTENBURG will formally deny allegations he used “inappropriate language” towards the Chelsea players Mikel John Obi and Juan Mata, with the Metropolitan Police now having launched its own investigation.
It is understood Clattenburg has been shocked and angered at being accused by Chelsea of using comments that have been interpreted as racist during their defeat by Manchester United on Sunday.
According to reports, Clattenburg is alleged to have called Mikel a “monkey” and Mata a “Spanish twat”, although the 37-year-old official rejects the allegations.
It is also understood the English FA is to speak to the referee about the matter, or to United to establish if any of their players may be potential witnesses. Chelsea, through the secretary, David Barnard, have taken formal statements from their squad.
With United due back at Stamford Bridge this evening for a potentially combustible League Cup tie, Oriol Romeu, an unused Chelsea substitute, appeared to confuse the picture of what may have happened when he told a Spanish radio station, Cadena COPE: “Neither Juan nor Fernando [Torres] told me they heard it because from what I have understood they didn’t hear anything. It was someone else who heard it, but not directly at them. It was another player who heard it and that is what they told me. I didn’t hear anything as I left quickly to go home, but after talking to Juan he told me there was some problem and he had to stay.
“I only know Chelsea made a complaint and I think there could really be a problem if what Chelsea players say happened really happened. If there was really a racist comment or something said against a Spanish player this will be serious. We know in this country people are very vigilant about these issues.”
The Metropolitan police confirmed it is seeking to establish whether any charge should be brought following what it described as a “complaint” made by the Society of Black Lawyers through its chairman, Peter Herbert.
A statement from the force read: “An investigation has been launched into alleged comments made on 28 October 2012. This follows on from a complaint received by the Metropolitan police service on 29 October. Officers from Hammersmith Fulham borough are in liaison with Chelsea football club and the Football Association.
“At this time, the Met has not received any complaint from either Chelsea football club, or the Football Association. We continue to 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.”
Herbert defended his decision to involve the police. “What we don’t want is for it to be swept away under the carpet,” he told Sky Sports News. “It must be subject to a full and proper investigation. It is to lend some seriousness and some weight behind what is happening in football.”
Meanwhile, Roberto Di Matteo and Alex Ferguson will make changes to their sides for this evening’s tie following United’s 3-2 win in west London on Sunday,
After the visit to Stamford Bridge, United host Arsenal in Saturday’s early kick-off, then fly to Portugal for their Champions League game before travelling to Aston Villa the following Saturday.
For the 3-0 win over Newcastle in late September, Ferguson handed full debuts to Michael Keane, Marnick Vermijl and Scott Wootton in a side completely different from United’s previous outing, a 2-1 win at Liverpool.
Di Matteo’s challenge is to try to ensure his side retain focus following Sunday’s post-match events. Although Mata and Mikel are in the match-day squad, the manager may elect to rest both.
“We are looking to freshen the team up a little bit, for sure, and also put a couple of youngsters in,” Di Matteo said.