Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson said he doesn’t believe referee Mark Clattenburg would direct a racial insult at a player.
The Football Association and London police are investigating an allegation that Clattenburg used “inappropriate language” toward Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel during the Premier League leader’s 3-2 loss to United at Stamford Bridge on Oct. 28.
Chelsea has submitted evidence to the F.A. including interviews with players and staff. The Sun reported that two Chelsea players said they heard Clattenburg, who is white, racially abuse Mikel, who is black. The referee denies the accusation, according to the newspaper.
“I don’t believe Mark Clattenburg would make any comments like that. I refuse to believe it,” Ferguson said at a news conference before of tomorrow’s match against Arsenal. “I think it is unthinkable in the modern climate. There is no way a referee would stoop to that, I am convinced of that.”
Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo wouldn’t comment on the case at his news conference today, citing the investigation. He said he didn’t expect his club to face a backlash from match officials.
“We have faith in the referees,” Di Matteo said. “They are people that are under a lot of pressure and they’re human beings like everyone else.”
Chelsea, which tops the Premier League by one point over United and Manchester City, visits Swansea tomorrow.
To contact the reporter on this story: Bob Bensch in London at email@example.com.