Police investigate referee Mark Clattenburg’s comments to Chelsea players
POLICE have launched a formal investigation into whether a top-flight referee used racist language towards Premier League stars.
• Chelsea accuse referee of ‘inappropriate’ comments
• Mark Clattenburg denies the allegations
• Police investigation follows FA probe
The Metropolitan Police said yesterday it had acted on a complaint from the Society of Black Lawyers after Chelsea football club accused Mark Clattenburg of making offensive comments to John Obi Mikel and Juan Mata.
The alleged comments were made during a match against Manchester United in London on Sunday.
Mr Clattenburg, 37, is understood to completely reject the allegations, which are also the subject of a Football Association investigation. A police statement read: “An investigation has been launched into alleged comments made during a football match between Chelsea FC and Manchester United FC at Stamford Bridge on 28 October, 2012.”
The criminal probe came less than 24 hours after the FA launched its own investigation.
The case is the latest in a series of alleged racist incidents to hit the English game. Earlier this year, Chelsea captain John Terry was fined by the FA for racially abusing Anton Ferdinand.
Liverpool striker Luis Suarez was also found guilty by the FA of making racist comments to Patrice Evra of Manchester United. And black English under-21s were subjected to racist chants at an international in Serbia.
The Metropolitan Police
became involved in the
Clattenburg case after the man
behind a mooted black players’
breakaway union, Peter Herbert, wrote to them demanding an investigation.
He said: “What we don’t want is for it to be swept under the carpet. It must be subject to a full and proper investigation.”
Mr Herbert admitted his
complaint was based on reports rather than first-hand evidence but added: “We weren’t there, but we don’t need to be there in order to report an incident.”
Chelsea, Mikel and Mata have so far chosen not to complain to the police and Professional
Association chief executive Gordon Taylor said: “Involving police or waiting causes a
massive festering of the issue, which has continued to cause problems and is not good for the image of the game. Football has got to be confident enough to deal with it.”
He added: “I’m quite concerned that when this happened with the John Terry and Anton Ferdinand incident, the process got elongated.
“This time, I want football to learn from it and deal with it as transparently as possible.
“In football, the penalties can be severe. In a court of law, the penalty for racial abuse would be a small amount in comparison to what the FA could fine.”
Mr Taylor welcomed the FA’s refusal to halt their own investigation, citing the International Cricket Council’s decision to rule on the Pakistan spot-fixing
scandal before it went to court.
It is understood Mr Clattenburg had yet to be interviewed by the FA yesterday, but that he denies any wrongdoing and has vowed to co-operate fully with any investigation. He was said to have been shocked and angered by the allegations.
Mr Clattenburg is now
expected to be spoken to by both police and the FA, possibly after submitting a written account about what took place during the match.
He has already filed what is known as an “extraordinary
incident report”, which is
understood mainly to deal with an alleged confrontation that took place in the referees’ room after full-time.
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