Is the referee a racist Who is telling the truth Did Clattenburg really use the word 'monkey' at Chelsea's Mikel The answers the FA and the police must uncover as they begin probe
08:20 GMT, 1 November 2012
The events that unfolded at Stamford Bridge on Sunday evening have created an unprecedented fissure in the English game, with a football club and match officials at loggerheads over alleged racist language.
The claim that Mark Clattenburg called John Mikel Obi a 'monkey' has shocked a sport that has been scarred by racist disputes for over a year.
NEIL ASHTON looks behind the allegations and conjecture to establish if there is any concrete evidence for Chelsea’s claim against the referee.
THE OTHERS IN THE LOOP
ALL four officials are able to hear each other speak thanks to a Swiss earpiece system. The sound is of digital quality and background noise is cut out.
Earpieces for the four of them cost 2,900.
SIMON LONG – Assistant referee
MICHAEL McDONOUGH – Assistant referee
MIKE JONES – Fourth official
WERE CLATTENBURG’S WORDS CAUGHT ON CAMERA
Up to 20 cameras are used for a live broadcast, but not all of them are ‘on record’. Sky’s match director chooses the best shot, as witnessed by the razor-sharp cut to Mikel being booked in the 76th minute.
However, the footage of the incident broadcast on Sky shows the back of the referee as he raises a yellow card. Mikel is obviously unhappy, but his reaction appears to be that of a man who has been booked rather than that of the victim of a racial slur. Other camera angles may help with the dialogue but may not be conclusive.
Earlier in the match, with the score 2-2, tempers were running high when Clattenburg dismissed Branislav Ivanovic in the 62nd minute for, in referee’s parlance, ‘DOGSO’ (denial of goalscoring opportunity).
As United players prepared to take the free-kick, Clattenburg was in a dialogue with Chelsea winger Juan Mata. It has been suggested that, at some point in the game, the referee called Mata a Spanish t***.
Sportsmail asked a lip-reading expert to analyse this clip. The expert’s conclusion is that Clattenburg appears to tell Mata: ‘I know it’s b******s… but that’s not my fault’.
Mata appears to accept this, but Torres is listening more intently and looks on open-mouthed. Chelsea have accepted there was not enough evidence to take the Mata complaint further.
Row: Chelsea have lodged an official complaint with the FA over the way in which Mark Clattenburg (right) spoke to John Obi Mikel (left)
WHAT KIND OF REFEREE IS CLATTENBURG
As a Newcastle fan, he is not allowed to officiate their matches because of his allegiance and cannot referee Sunderland matches because of the rivalry.
Sunday was Chelsea’s Kick It Out day — and both teams, plus the officials, wore ‘One Game One Community’ shirts to promote the initiative. Clattenburg wore the campaign T-shirt throughout his 30-minute pre-match routine.
He enjoys the celebrity that comes with officiating a high-profile sport. He adopts a matey attitude with players during matches, but some would prefer an official to act with more detachment.
Clattenburg is regarded by the PGMO as one of their top referees and is being considered by FIFA as the English representative at the 2014 World Cup.
Back in action: John Obi Mikel at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night
WHAT HAPPENED IN THE HOURS AFTER THE GAME
Feelings intensified in the Chelsea dressing room. When Brazilian Ramires told Mikel he thought he’d been called ‘a monkey’, at least three members of the playing and coaching staff asked: ‘Are you certain’ Ramires was asked if, with Clattenburg having such a strong North East accent, the official had said: ‘shut up Mikel’, rather than ‘shut up monkey’, which has been alleged.
There is a popular assumption that Terry, serving the second game of a four-match FA ban for racially abusing Anton Ferdinand, encouraged Chelsea to make a complaint. But according to dressing-room sources, Terry has given the dispute a wide berth.
Chelsea officials then joined in an increasingly heated conversation that travelled the short distance from the team changing area to the referee’s room.
Clattenburg and his officials prepared for the match in a room the size of a rabbit-hutch. It is the first door on the left when the officials walk down the tunnel from the pitch and is separated from the home dressing room by a mascot’s changing area.
In the normal course of events, a people-carrier would be available to take the referee to the Crowne Plaza on King’s Road, half an hour after the game. On this occasion, the vehicle would have to wait.
Clattenburg was required, under FA rules, to remain 30 minutes after the final whistle to give managers a ‘cooling off’ period before they can approach the match officials. But there were few cool heads around during what happened next.
On entering the referee’s room, it is alleged Mikel had to be restrained from physically attacking Clattenburg. He accused the official of racially insulting him and demanded an apology. But a shocked Clattenburg flatly denied it, saying: ‘You must be f***ing joking’. The officials all witnessed the dramatic scenes. Nigerian-born Mikel speaks perfect English.
HOW DID THE POLICE GET INVOLVED
A complaint by Peter Herbert, the chairman of the Society of Black Lawyers, triggered their investigation, even though he had no evidence.
He made his complaint based on press coverage and defended his actions by telling The Times: ‘We don’t need to be there to report an incident. This needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.’
He added: ‘Hate crimes cannot be tolerated and should be pursued through the official channels with vigour.’
TOO QUICK TO JUDGE
Chelsea chief executive Ron Gourlay blustered his way through a talkSPORT interview two weeks ago over John Terry and his hot-headed approach in the corridor on Sunday is surprising.
Chelsea released a statement two hours after the final whistle. No one had a chance to cool down and rationalise the alleged events. Instead, a club that has been involved in a protracted racist row steamed in to another one.
Clattenburg filed an ‘extraordinary incident’ report on Sunday evening, which was picked up by the FA’s governance department on Monday morning. There was very little detail, a tactic referees use to avoid charging players for post-match incidents.
Distraction: Ramires scored for Chelsea against Manchester United on Wednesday night but appears key to the whole case against Clattenburg
However, Chelsea’s complaint to the match delegate Nick Cusack means the referee and his assistants now have to provide a thorough report on the incidents on the field and the heated post-match row with Mikel.
Clattenburg has told friends he wishes he hadn’t sent Torres off. Despite FA and police enquiries, he is also willing to speak with the media about his experience. He says he has nothing to hide, is comfortable with his conduct and will co-operate fully with the authorities.
After the fevered atmosphere had calmed down on Monday morning, Chelsea brought in lawyers to interview players and advise the club whether to advance a complaint to the FA. They have interviewed players, managers and executives. They will instruct Chelsea on the chance of meeting the FA’s civil standard of proof — ‘balance of probabilities’ — in an independent commission hearing. After Chelsea’s experience with John Terry, this is a massive call.
This is a case that will turn on a player’s grasp of English, interpretation of a referee’s regional accent and the technology used by match officials.
Chelsea will have to provide sufficient evidence that Clattenburg used the word ‘monkey’, and must be confident the club can present a case that does not backfire on them spectacularly.