Chelsea lodged an official complaint against match referee Mark Clattenburg after their highly controversial match against Manchester United at Stamford Bridge.
Clattenburg was accused of racially abusing John Obi Mikel during the match.
These allegations could have massive repercussions as this comes during a period when English football is struggling to keep racism out of the game.
Stalwarts like Arsene Wenger and Alex Ferguson have voiced their concerns over these serious charges brought against a match official. Wenger believes that these issues should not have been made public; instead it should be settled behind closed doors. Sir Alex on the other hand has questioned the validity of these allegations.
Sir Alex was quoted in press:
“I don’t believe he would make comments like that. I refuse to believe it. It’s unthinkable.
“There is not a referee who would stoop to that. I’m convinced by that.
“I’ve never had a player come to me in the last 15 years and say a referee swore in a game – ever.
“The way we see the game today rather than how it was 25 years ago, it has completely changed. I played myself and I know that the banter which went on between referees and players 25 years ago is different to today.”
The above comments didn’t go down too well with Roberto Di Matteo. The Chelsea manager has hit back at Ferguson saying that he shouldn’t be talking about other club’s issues.
Roberto Di Matteo told the press:
“Yes, and I have to say that it happened in the past as well. There is a lot of respect between your colleagues, the managers, in general. And everybody has a different approach. Some people talk about other clubs and clubs’ issues and some don’t. We’ll take the knowledge of his comments but it doesn’t mean that we share it.
“It’s a free country where everybody has freedom of speech. We take into consideration what other people say and use it as a motivational tool for ourselves. It is a free country, as I say, and everybody can say what they want. He [Ferguson] likes to talk about other clubs; we tend not to. I’ll leave it up to him.”
Di Matteo continued to vent his frustration against the refereeing standards and pointed out that Manchester United always gets favorable decisions. But he stopped short of accusing the referee of doing this on purpose.
Di Matteo added:
“There is a lot of evidence for being concerned that all the decisions go in United’s favour. There are some feelings in general but I don’t think they [referees] do that with a purpose. It’s just part of their decision-making and it seems to go in one direction. Does it even itself out? I don’t know.
“We need to support the referees. The players and managers have to do everything to support the referees. As much as it angers us and me personally when a key decision goes against me, I still believe we need to do everything to support the officials and make sure that they can perform at the best of their ability.”
Chelsea are now coming under increased criticism for lodging complaint against Mark Clattenburg with little or no evidence to back up their claims. They have already withdrawn the initial charge of Clattenburg abusing Juan Mata, which has now put a lot question marks on their credibility. Journalist Des Kelly has criticized Chelsea for trying to disrepute Mark Clattenburg with such frail evidence.
Kelly said in his article for the Dailymail:
“Not that Mikel heard this insult, you understand. It is based on the word of Brazilian player Ramires Santos do Nascimento, who apparently believes he was able to hear Clattenburg abusing his Chelsea team-mate.
At this point, it is worth noting that Ramires speaks about as much English as I speak Portuguese — which is very little. His club interviews require the services of a translator and, on the pitch, he apparently asked David Luiz — another Brazilian — to explain what he thought he had heard Clattenburg say.
Is this the evidence Chelsea are relying on to destroy a match official’s career? A piece of hearsay passed on second or third hand?”
Kelly has furthered questioned this sudden increased sense of hearing among the Chelsea players, who couldn’t hear John Terry abusing Anton Ferdinand from ‘close proximity’.
Football fans will hope that the FA can resolve this issue much quicker than they did while handling the Terry-Ferdinand saga. It would be interesting to see how strongly Chelsea pursue this case.