I'm sorry, but Chelsea are an utter disgrace
00:30 GMT, 24 November 2012
Chelsea claimed it had all been done in 'good faith'. Amazingly, the Football Association nodded in agreement. Rarely has the English language been mangled quite so abhorrently.
For a start, there was not a word of apology from the club. Not a single, solitary one. As expected, the FA threw out the spurious and damaging accusation of racism that Chelsea levelled against referee Mark Clattenburg.
But even then Chelsea could not summon up the decency or class to utter ‘sorry’ to the man. Good faith obviously has a different meaning in the corridors of Stamford Bridge.
Disgrace: Chelsea have refused to apologise after accusing Mark Clattenburg of racially abusing John Obi Mikel
More from Des Kelly…
Des Kelly: Ibrahimovic's goal was NOT the greatest ever scored
Des Kelly: Just man up like Rod and let your teardrops explode
Des Kelly: No Chelsea player heard Terry abuse Ferdinand… now they're blessed with the hearing of a piano tuner
Des Kelly: The finger of blame will only point at you, Roberto
Des Kelly: Now it is time for football's three monkeys to wise up
Des Kelly: Really, what are these people who support Armstrong on
Des Kelly: Terry affair must not derail battle to defeat racism… so let's stop the schism
Des Kelly: Forget the badge… it might have been you on that tragic day at Hillsborough
VIEW FULL ARCHIVE
What a ghastly week this has been for them. What a horrible stain they have left on the season. Putrid doesn’t quite cover their behaviour. Throw in despicable and it might.
Chelsea have displayed such an arrogant, pig-headed disregard for decency with their allegations against Clattenburg that someone in a position of authority deserves to lose their job.
This is a club that sacks managers and coaches on a whim, even if they collect the European Cup. As far as they are concerned, experienced football men are simply dispensable.
But the relatively anonymous boardroom suits that served up this unpleasant smear to the public are now supposed to be allowed to just walk away from this mess without accepting responsibility I think not.
To implicate a referee in a racism row based on evidence so flimsy it turned out to be non-existent was a truly shocking misjudgment by the decision-makers at the club.
Clattenburg has been hounded for weeks because of their actions. He has been accused, investigated and quizzed. He had his character impugned, he was forced to forgo his job while the storm raged, ordered to bite his lip and hide away from the world as he saw his name repeatedly linked with the horrible slur of being a ‘racist’.
So it must be sickening for Clattenburg to see the FA sugar-coat their dismissal of Chelsea’s laughable case.
‘Good faith’ Not for Clattenburg it wasn’t. Not for referees, who will now tape every conversation they have with players on the pitch, such is their level of distrust.
Bad times: Clattenburg's name was dragged through the mud
Having done absolutely nothing wrong, having been exonerated, he is also effectively prevented from taking charge of any match at Stamford Bridge for the foreseeable future. More ‘good faith’, I assume.
Ignore the public-relations froth in the prepared statements. Ignore the legalese. Ignore, too, Chelsea’s post-rationalisation of events and the risible claim they had to go public on the night, long before all the information had been properly gathered and assessed.
Here are the facts…
Chelsea accused Clattenburg of being a racist.They were horribly wrong.No credible evidence was produced.The club have refused to apologise.
Why hasn’t someone at Chelsea resigned this morning At the BBC, bosses were clearing their desks when one politician was falsely accused of a repugnant crime.
Over at ITV, a presenter was
grovelling and his bosses paying out damages after he waved about a list
of alleged criminals he had lifted from the internet.
is it OK to say a professional match official is a racist — and then
shrug and say ‘Oops’ when the charge is exposed as complete trash No
doubt a lawyer suggested Chelsea should avoid any apology for fear it
might ‘compromise their legal position’. I wonder if it was the same
lawyer who suggested they might have a case in the first place
Amazing, too, that the judgment broke as new manager Rafa Benitez was being wheeled in for his inaugural press conference. A good day to try to bury bad news, perhaps I wouldn’t put it past this lot.
Chelsea are a club run by an easily bored oligarch with no regard for careers or reputations. I often look at Roman Abramovich’s vacant, thousand-yard stare and wonder what he is thinking. Or even, if.
The chances that he might publicly account for his actions at the club are as remote as his home in Siberia.
But it makes my stomach turn to now read someone at Stamford Bridge claim they had a ‘duty of care’ to Ramires, as if that makes it all ok.
They also had a duty of care to the game, to the reputation of our officials, to the ‘Respect’ tags they dare to wear on their kits. They also had a duty of care to the man they accused of being a racist without any plausible proof.
Overheard: Ramires thought he heard a racial slur
This isn’t being wise after the event. This isn’t slating Chelsea for the sake of it, although heaven knows they make it easy. The FA verdict was a foregone conclusion even after the most cursory inspection of the so-called ‘evidence’ — and I have said as much on these pages before.
Chelsea could have looked into the complaint and followed it through without rushing into public with their nasty smear. And considering the astonishing lack of ‘evidence’, it is also a mystery why the FA moved to deliver their verdict as slowly as insurance loss adjusters.
That ‘good faith’ remark smacks of days of draft statements knocking back and forth between expensive lawyers. It reeks of a ‘we-won’t-say-this-if-you-don’t-say-that’ trade-off. The referee was put through the mangle on the word of one player — Ramires, a Portuguese-speaking Brazilian who struggles to communicate in English.
A gaggle of players were closer to the supposed incident and heard nothing, including Ashley Cole and John Mikel Obi.
There was no audio or video evidence, nor confirmation from officials on the touchline. But Chelsea pressed on, having been backed into a corner by their own eagerness to point an accusing finger.
Centre of the storm: Mikel was proven NOT to have been called a monkey
Did you note that Ramires took 15 days to pinpoint the moment he believed he had heard a ‘racist’ remark Until then, he had been unable to remember when this extraordinary insult was actually uttered. Does that sound like a credible witness to you No, nor me. Nor the Metropolitan Police. Nor the FA, for that matter.
Chelsea went to make a point of saying they ‘provided 11 witness statements’. How comprehensive of them.
Unfortunately, that appears to have boiled down to 10 people saying ‘Nope — I didn’t hear any such thing’ and one bloke from Brazil saying he definitely might have heard the word ‘monkey’.
The improbable idiocy of it all didn’t stop someone associated with Chelsea briefing the media within two hours of the final whistle with claims the referee may have made racist remarks. It was running on Sky Sports by 8pm. The club knew what the consequences would be.
So it was galling to read this in Chelsea’s statement: ‘All those directly involved have been subjected to scrutiny over the last weeks. Chelsea FC now hopes that all concerned can continue to carry out their duties without prejudice.’
Back to duty: Clattenburg says he hopes no ref has to go through this in the future
Oh, you do, do you Only one man has been accused of ‘prejudice’. Only one man has really been under scrutiny. Only one man has been fighting for his job. But now the tables are turned, just look at Chelsea trying to wriggle away from the mess they created.
There is the one comment amid all of this that truly matters. It is from Clattenburg himself, who is thankfully returning to duty.
‘There are processes that should be adhered to in order that any investigation can be carried out in a manner that is fair,’ he said.
‘I know first-hand the ramifications of allegations of this nature being placed into the public domain ahead of a formal process and investigation. I hope no referee has to go through this in the future.’
Damn right. I would add my own hope that Clattenburg and the referees’ union succeed in their bid to take Chelsea to the cleaners in court.
Even if they can’t bring themselves to say it, I hope Chelsea are made to feel sorry.
Rafa's luck is pants
Chelsea's future former manager, Rafa Benitez, wears lucky underpants.
Whenever the Spanish boss requires the intervention of fate, he pulls on a red pair of budgie-smugglers adorned with a picture of a Tasmanian devil.
It paid off when he led Valencia to the Spanish title and the UEFA Cup. He wore them for every European game in his first year at Liverpool, too, and picked up the 2005 Champions League trophy.
Lucky pants: Rafael Benitez will neet more than underwear to get the best out of Fernando Torres
But Benitez might need more than lucky pants at Chelsea after being handed the interim job on one promise; the belief that he can sort out Fernando Torres.
The 50million striker is not the man Benitez remembers at Anfield. He has lost the explosive pace that was his greatest weapon.
Maybe Benitez can restore some of the old magic. But the overriding suspicion is Torres is beyond saving at the very highest level. I’d never dare suggest he might even be a bit pants these days — because he’s not that lucky.
Tony looks a Twit
Queens Park Rangers chairman Tony Fernandes should sack himself. From Twitter.
The knee-jerk social media forum has been nothing but a curse for Fernandes. His wish to communicate with fans is admirable, but he has to be smart enough to know when to leave the iPhone alone, rather than make himself a hostage to fortune.
On Friday, QPR dispensed with Mark Hughes just seven days after Fernandes declared: ‘It won’t be happening — for the millionth time, ha ha.’
Axed: Mark Hughes was sacked despite Tony Fernandes claiming he wouldn't be
We laughed, too. Not with Fernandes, but at his naivety. Now it looks as if Fernandes was forced to wield the axe only after a rift with other key directors. His Twitter feed definitely supports that view.
On October 27, he insisted: ‘We have one of the best managers in the Premier League. We’re in this for the long term.’
I suppose that three-and-a-half weeks is regarded as ‘long term’ in football these days.