Chelsea choose to step up referee race row complaint

CHELSEA last night stepped up their complaint against referee Mark Clattenburg for allegedly using a racial term towards Nigerian John Obi Mikel by lodging a formal complaint with the Football Association but dropped their claim that the official also spoke inappropriately towards fellow midfielder Juan Mata.

The club said they had been unable to collate sufficient evidence to pursue an alleged incident involving Spaniard Mata, but indicated they felt their case regarding Clattenburg’s behaviour towards Mikel in Sunday’s heated Premier League defeat to Manchester United on Sunday was sufficiently robust.

“Chelsea today lodged a formal complaint with The FA regarding inappropriate language directed at John Mikel Obi by Mark Clattenburg,” the club said in a statement. “This is a result of a thorough investigation carried out by the club, and led by outside legal counsel, of all information available to us including interviews with a number of players and staff.”

The Blues stated they had followed “the correct protocol” after Sunday’s match. Having used lawyers to quiz players, the club proceeded with its complaint against Clattenburg regarding Mikel but not Mata.

The statement added: “Having completed that process we have now followed the correct protocol and lodged a formal complaint with The FA regarding John Mikel Obi. There was not sufficient evidence to support a second claim to The FA with regard to the alleged verbal abuse of another first team player.”

The FA opened its own investigation into the allegations on Monday, when it received a report from the Premier League’s delegate. The Metropolitan Police started its own probe on Tuesday following a complaint from a member of the Society of Black Lawyers.
Clattenburg is believed to deny the claims. He has been stood down from this week’s fixtures. It remains unclear whether he will take the field again before the FA’s investigation is complete.

Chelsea’s complaint is particularly sensitive following a number of high-profile racism cases in English football over the last 12 months. Their captain John Terry is currently serving a four-match ban after an FA disciplinary panel found him guilty of racially abusing QPR's Anton Ferdinand in a match in October 2011.