Mikel banned for three games
Soccer:Midfielder John Obi Mikel has been given a three-game ban for threatening referee Mark Clattenburg after Chelsea's stormy Premier League match against Manchester United on October 28th. The Nigerian international had already admitted the FA charge, having confronted the official in his changing room after the game.
The decision by the Independent Regulatory Commission includes a £60,000 (€74,000) fine and 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 yesterday, will miss the weekend’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.
That tournament begins on January 19th, with the players set to convene in the weeks beforehand, and Mikel would be unavailable until February 10th should Nigeria reach the final.
The FA announced Mikel’s charge last month in a statement that also confirmed they would take no action against Clattenburg following a complaint by Chelsea that he used a racist remark to their players.
The FA decided there was “no case to answer” over the allegation the referee said “shut up you monkey” to Mikel.
New boss Rafael Benitez appeared to begin preparations for his absence last night when he employed David Luiz in midfield at stages of the 6-1 Champions League win over FC Nordsjaelland.
Benitez admitted after the match he was prepared to use Luiz further up the pitch and provide support for holding midfielders Ramires and Oriol Romeu, who both started last night’s game.