LONDON, England, November 23 – England’s governing Football Association (FA) announced Thursday it would take no action against referee Mark Clattenburg over allegations he used a racist remark towards Chelsea’s John Obi Mikel.
The FA said there was “no case to answer” over allegations Clattenburg said “shut up you monkey” to the Nigeria midfielder during Chelsea’s 3-2 Premier League defeat by Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on October 28.
However, an FA statement said the complaint by Mikel’s Brazilian team-mate Ramires had been made in good faith.
But the FA did charge Mikel for a misconduct offence alleged to have taken place “in or around” the officials’ changing room following the match.
Meanwhile, Clattenburg, who hasn’t officiated in a major fixture since Chelsea made their complaint public just a few hours after the final whistle of a fractious match, expressed his relief at the outcome.
“I am looking forward to putting this behind me and concentrating on refereeing in the Premier League and other competitions,” he said.
“The messages of encouragement from those inside and outside of the game have helped me through the most stressful time of my professional life.
“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 in order that any investigation can be carried out in a manner that is fair for all parties involved,” he added.
Chelsea, in a statement, “accepted” the decision regarding Clattenburg and welcomed the FA saying that “the club and players were correct in reporting the matter”.
European champions Chelsea said that while Mikel “did not deny” the charge against him, he would request a personal hearing to explain the “mitigating circumstances” involved.
Meanwhile, the FA said the independent lawyer reviewing the case on their behalf had concluded the “evidence of Ramires was not supported by any other evidence” and “contradicted by other witnesses” and that it “does not believe there is a case for Mr Clattenburg to answer”.
In response to the incident, English top flight referees chief Mike Riley said they would look to follow rugby union’s example in recording comments made by officials on their communications system.
Last week British police dropped their own separate enquiry into Clattenburg’s conduct during the incident, sparked by a complaint from the Society of Black Lawyers.
Prior to the police decision, Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck denied the London club were hypocrites for backing captain John Terry while lodging a complaint against Clattenburg.
Buck said Chelsea had a “duty of care” in supporting Terry, who recently completed a four-game domestic ban for racially abusing QPR defender Anton Ferdinand in a match last year.
Thursday’s announcement by the FA came less than an hour before Rafael Benitez was due to hold his first news conference as Chelsea interim manager.
Chelsea, for reasons unconnected to the Clattenburg case, sacked former manager Roberto di Matteo on Wednesday after a run of just two wins in eight matches culminating in Tuesday’s 3-0 defeat by Juventus in Turin.
That loss left Chelsea facing the prospect of becoming the first holders of the Champions League to be eliminated in the following season’s group stage.