Bernstein hits back at cover-up claims as Clattenburg awaits ruling on race probe
17:14 GMT, 14 November 2012
FA chairman David Bernstein has branded Peter Herbert’s accusation that his organisation was 'institutionally racist' as 'ill-informed' and 'unhelpful'.
Herbert, the chairman of the Society of Black Lawyers, had earlier accused football’s governing body of attempting a ‘cover-up’ with Chelsea over the alleged racist abuse from referee Mark Clattenburg.
But Bernstein said in a statement: 'These ill-informed and unhelpful remarks are at odds with the progressive and responsible approach being followed by the game with the support of Government to deal with these serious issues.
Accused: Mark Clattenburg, pictured leaving his house on Wednesday, is the subject of an FA probe
Loggerheads: David Bernstein (left) has hit back at Peter Herbert's claims of a cover up
WHO IS THIS HERBERT
Peter Herbert is a human rights barrister and chairman of the Society of Black Lawyers. He’s also the man who lodged a complaint with the Metropolitan Police over referee Mark Clattenburg’s alleged abuse of John Mikel Obi.
Herbert was the first chair of the Race-Hate Crimes Forum and, with strong links to the US, has advised on introducing an equivalent to the Rooney Rule in Britain.
'The FA will continue working to strengthen processes to eradicate all forms of discrimination in football.'
The FA will on Thursday make their announcement on the action they will take over the initial claims from Chelsea, and Sportsmail understands they are unlikely to charge the referee.
FA officials have spent a significant
sum on legal advice and taken their time in order to come to the right
decision, and it comes after the Metropolitan Police revealed they have
shelved their investigation into the complaint made by the Society of Black Lawyers.
'It sounds remarkably like a
football cover-up,' the society's chairman told BBC Radio 5 live. 'It
sounds remarkably like the football industry wanted to have this issue
swept under the carpet.'
Chelsea made a formal complaint against Clattenburg on October 29
following their 3-2 home defeat by Manchester United. A day later the FA
opened an investigation into the allegation, part of which was that
Clattenburg used racial language.
Afterwards Chelsea accused
Clattenburg of the racial slur on Mikel – who angrily stormed into his
dressing room and confronted him after the match – and of calling Juan
Mata a ‘Spanish t***’.
The club later dropped the accusation against Mata but pressed ahead and reported the comment about Mikel to the FA.
It is understood Chelsea did not give evidence to the police because
they felt the FA was the appropriate body to deal with the matter.
If, as expected, Clattenburg, 37, is cleared by the FA it will leave the Blues' reputation in tatters after their captain John Terry was banned for four matches and fined 220,000 after being found guilty of racially abusing QPR's Anton Ferdinand by an FA independent regulatory commission.
Flashpoint: John Obi Mikel (right) and Ramires made allegations about referee Mark Clattenburg (centre)
On Tuesday, the police investigation was discontinued because 'no
victims have come forward' and 'without a victim and/or any evidence
that any offence has been committed, the matter cannot currently be
The FA confirmed its investigation would proceed, but Herbert is furious
that neither the governing body nor Chelsea have taken the matter to
'We strongly suspect that the FA and/or Chelsea have failed to provide
this information to the Metropolitan Police in order for them to conduct
a proper investigation,' he said.
'The information we had is that there are “no victims”. Well, if there
are no victims, what on earth has been referred to the FA in the first
'What on earth are the FA and Chelsea playing then Are they having some
cosy exchange of statements between themselves and not giving it to the
'We're going to ask the borough commander for an explanation. Was there
any co-operation Was any evidence given If none was given by the FA or
Chelsea we want to raise that issue with the Minister of Sport.'
Herbert is particularly critical of the FA's decision not to involve the police once Chelsea made their complaint.
'If the Metropolitan Police are not provided with statements what are they supposed to do' he added.
'If a football club has registered a complaint with the FA, we would
expect the FA to refer this matter to the Metropolitan Police.
Marching orders: Clattenburg showed two red cards to Chelsea players in the match, which included a highly controversial decision to show Fernando Torres a second yellow card for diving
Marching orders: Branislav Ivanovic was sent off (above) as Clattenburg struggled to the control the game
'The FA does not have the tools to investigate race-hate crime. We think
that until the FA gets its house in order complaints like this should
be investigated by the police.
'It really does beggar belief that the primary football authorities in
the country do not understand the seriousness of hate crime.'
Clattenburg has not officiated in a match since the incident. But some refereeing experts have suggested he will be handed a last-minute match in the lower leagues this weekend in an under-the-radar bid to assimilate the Durham official back into officiating.
On Tuesday, in an interview with the Evening Standard, Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck stood by the club's allegation levelled at Clattenburg.
'We were guided by obligations that are imposed by the Football Association and also as an employer. FA rule E14 basically says a participant shall immediately report to the association any incident or matter which may be considered to be a misconduct.
'Misconduct is a defined term under the FA regulations and includes such racial behaviour. We also had to consider the Equality Act 2010, which imposes an obligation on an employer to take certain actions if an employee is subject to discrimination by third parties.
'Suppose we had tried to sweep this under the rug and said to the various players, “Look, it's not a big deal and the press are going to be all over us, maybe you want to reconsider”. If that had leaked out, we would've really been crucified.'
Clattenburg timeline: How football has reacted to the claims of racist abuse
Oct 28: Mark Clattenburg sends off Branislav Ivanovic and Fernando Torres, the latter for a disputed dive, as Chelsea go down 3-2 against Manchester United.
Chelsea later confirm they had lodged a formal complaint with the Premier League match delegate regarding 'inappropriate language' made by Clattenburg to two of their players. The complaint is understood to relate to alleged racial comments in incidents involving John Obi Mikel and Juan Mata.
Oct 29: Clattenburg is offered the full support of Prospect, the referees' union.
The Football Association starts an investigation relating to Chelsea's allegations. PFA chief Gordon
Taylor urges the FA to deal with the matter quickly.
The Professional Game Match Officials confirms Clattenburg will not be involved in the next round of matches, stating 'the focus should not be on the officials but on the players and the game itself'.
The Society of Black Lawyers sends a letter to the Metropolitan Police calling for a legal investigation. The Met confirm they have received a complaint and will 'consider any allegation that is made'.
Oct 30: The Metropolitan Police launch an investigation into the incidents at Stamford Bridge.
Oct 31: Chelsea lodge a formal complaint with the Football Association regarding 'inappropriate language' directed at Mikel by Clattenburg during Sunday's match.
Nov 2: Sir Alex Ferguson enters the debate, saying: 'I refuse to believe' Clattenburg would make racially abusive comments.
Nov 5: The referees group PGMOL says Clattenburg will not referee at the weekend, but that they had been willing to appoint him to a match if he had wanted.
Nov 8: The Football Association carried out a series of interviews with match officials as they continued their investigations.
Nov 12: Clattenburg was absent from the PGMOL list for a third successive week, although he did return to training.
Nov 13: The police investigation into alleged comments made by Clattenburg was dropped due to a lack of evidence, Scotland Yard said.