REFEREE Mark Clattenburg last night spoke of the “truly frightening” possibility that his career could have been wrecked by an unjust accusation that he racially abused a Chelsea player.
The match official also implicitly criticised Chelsea for going public with the complaint before the Football Association had even launched a formal investigation.
Clattenburg, 37, found out yesterday he will face no action from the FA over a complaint by Chelsea that he said “shut up you monkey” to midfielder John Obi Mikel last month.
The FA decided there was “no case to answer” and Chelsea have accepted the decision, but the Blues issued no apology and pointed out that the FA accepted the complaint by Mikel’s team-mate Ramires, though erroneous, was “made in good faith”.
Clattenburg spoke of his relief and said the last few weeks, during which he has taken no part in refereeing matches, had been “the most stressful of his life”.
He said: “To know you were innocent of something but that there was the opportunity for it to wreck your career was truly frightening. Racism has no place in football and this experience should not discourage those to speak out if they genuinely believe they are a victim of abuse.
“However, there are processes that should be adhered to in order that any investigation can be carried out in a manner that is fair for all parties involved. I know first-hand the ramifications of allegations of this nature being placed into the public domain ahead of a formal investigation. I hope no referee has to go through this in the future.
“I am looking forward to putting this behind me and concentrating on refereeing in the Premier League and other competitions.”
Clattenburg also paid tribute to the support from colleagues, family and the referees’ trade union Prospect, who have called for Chelsea to apologise and compensate the official.
He added: “The messages of encouragement from those inside and outside of the game have helped me through the most stressful time of my professional life.”
Mikel was himself charged by the FA yesterday for using threatening words or behaviour after going into the referees’ changing room after the match in question, Chelsea’s 3-2 defeat by Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on 28 October.
Chelsea insisted that they had a duty to report the claim against Clattenburg but added that Mikel would not deny the charge against him.