English soccer’s ruling body said it opened an investigation into allegations made after yesterday’s Chelsea-Manchester United game, when referee Mark Clattenburg was at the center of controversy.
The Football Association didn’t specify the nature of the allegations in a statement on its website and said it would make no further comment at the moment. Chelsea said last night it lodged an official complaint that Clattenburg used “inappropriate language” toward two of its players.
Clattenburg is being investigated over claims he directed racist remarks at Nigerian midfielder John Obi Mikel and Spanish forward Juan Mata, the British Broadcasting Corp. reported. Chelsea’s complaint followed the 3-2 home defeat against United, during which the referee red carded Branislav Ivanovic and Fernando Torres, and allowed a winning goal that Blues manager Roberto di Matteo said was offside.
Last night the Professional Game Match Officials, a body that manages referees, said the allegations were “being treated with the utmost seriousness.”
“Mark will cooperate fully and welcomes the opportunity for the facts to be established,” it said.
The PGMO today said Clattenburg won’t officiate a match next weekend, adding that “that with any football match the focus should not be on the officials but on the players and the game itself,” Sky reported.
Prospect, the referees’ union, said today in a statement that it’s offering full support to Clattenburg in relation to the allegations made against him.
“It is now important that the allegations are fully investigated through the proper process as quickly as possible,” Alan Leighton, the union’s national secretary, said in the statement.
The Metropolitan Police Service said in a later statement it was considering a complaint received in relation to the match and “will work in partnership with Chelsea Football Club and the Football Association in order to consider any allegation that is made in relation to the reported events.”
The complaints against Clattenburg follow a series of race- linked controversies affecting Chelsea and English soccer.
In July, Chelsea captain John Terry was found not guilty in a criminal case linked to alleged racial abuse of Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand in a game last October. On Sept. 27 he was banned by the F.A. for four games over the same incident, missing the United game because of that suspension.
Some players in the English game then boycotted anti-racism T-shirts in a protest against what they saw as ineffective action to combat racist conduct.
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