Mark Clattenburg and the Football Association were today both waiting to discover whether police would investigate allegations the referee used “inappropriate language” towards Chelsea stars John Obi Mikel and Juan Mata.
Clattenburg yesterday became the latest high-profile football figure to find himself the subject of an FA probe over on-field comments after the European champions made a formal complaint about what are understood to have been interpreted as racist remarks during their defeat to Manchester United on Sunday.
The 37-year-old was also stood down from officiating for a week.
The man behind the mooted black players’ breakaway union, Peter Herbert, sent a letter to the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), which read: “The Society of Black Lawyers wishes to record the incident that took place at Chelsea FC.
“Our information is that racist remarks were directed at John Mikel Obi and at Juan Mata. If so, that is wholly unacceptable in any circumstances.
“Although this matter may be investigated by the FA, it is appropriate that the MPS independently see if a racially-aggravated offence has occurred.”
The police confirmed they had received what they described as a “complaint” and were considering it.
They said in a statement: “On the afternoon of 29 October, the Metropolitan Police received a complaint relating to the Chelsea v Man Utd match on 28 October. This is now being considered.
“Officers from Hammersmith & Fulham borough have been in contact with Chelsea Football Club today regarding the widely-reported club referral of the referee’s behaviour to the Football Association.
“At this time, the Metropolitan Police has not received any complaint from either Chelsea Football Club or the Football Association.
“We 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.”
Former Liverpool defender and Sky Sports pundit Phil Thompson says the facts must be established before Clattenburg is judged.
Former Liverpool defender and Sky Sports pundit Phil Thompson said the facts must be established before Clattenburg is judged.
"If this is a racist comment, it certainly needs dealing with, swiftly (but) we have to know whether it was a racist comment or a swearword.
"If it was a few swearwords, Clattenburg shouldn’t lose his position (and) shouldn’t be sacked."
It was unclear whether Mikel, Mata or Chelsea welcomed police involvement.
Any criminal investigation would pile pressure on the FA, who will be desperate to avoid another lengthy racism saga after shelving their own investigation into Terry while he faced criminal charges.
Their action yesterday followed the receipt of the match delegate’s report, as well as an "extraordinary incident report" from Clattenburg himself.
These are submitted by referees on matters that may require FA intervention.
The investigation prompted Clattenburg’s bosses at Professional Game Match Officials to omit him from games on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, saying in a statement: “Professional Game Match Officials believe that, with any football match, the focus should not be on the officials but on the players and the game itself.
“Mark Clattenburg is one of the elite referees in world football and, in these circumstances, the intense level of scrutiny would detract from the match and be unfair to the clubs and the supporters of both sides.”
Clattenburg, who vowed on Sunday to co-operate fully with any investigation, was promised the “full support” of the referees’ union.
Prospect added in a statement: “It is now important that the allegations are fully investigated through the proper process as quickly as possible.”
That process looks set to involve Clattenburg, Mikel and Mata all being interviewed by FA compliance officers, who are likely to speak to other potential witnesses.