English Premier League soccer club Chelsea said it regrets the way it handled allegations that referee Mark Clattenburg made a racist remark toward one of its players in a match last month.
The London club issued a joint statement today with referees group Professional Game Match Officials Ltd. and the Premier League in which it acknowledged “more consideration” should have been given before going public with the allegation.
England’s Football Association last week cleared Clattenburg, 37, of allegedly making the remark toward Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel in an Oct. 28 league match against Manchester United.
Chelsea made a formal complaint the following day after Brazilian midfielder Ramires alleged he heard the referee say “Shut up, you monkey” to Mikel, of Nigeria. Clattenburg hasn’t refereed a match since and denied Chelsea’s allegation he used “inappropriate language.” Mikel didn’t hear the alleged words.
Chelsea said it also regretted the “subsequent impact the intense media scrutiny had on Mark Clattenburg and his family.”
The F.A.’s decision to clear Clattenburg came after the Metropolitan Police dropped a probe into the allegation. It started its investigation after a complaint by the Society of Black Lawyers, which called for an inquiry into whether a criminal offense had been committed.
Chelsea Chairman Bruce Buck, Premier League Chief Executive Officer Richard Scudamore, Clattenburg and the remaining 15 Select Group referees and referee general manager Mike Riley met yesterday to discuss the issue, calling the session a “constructive and open discussion.”
“The referees accept that, given Chelsea F.C. had received a good-faith claim from one of their employees, the club had an obligation under F.A. rules to report the allegation,” the statement read.
Chelsea said that Clattenburg is welcome to work at Stamford Bridge and that the officials’ group said it would have no issue in assigning him to a match there.
“All parties now believe it is time to draw a line under this incident, learn from it and move on for the good of all Premier League clubs, players and match officials,” the groups said in the statement.
To contact the reporter on this story: Bob Bensch in London at firstname.lastname@example.org.