Mikel Obi charged with misconduct in alleged racial row

Chelsea midfielder John Mikel Obi has been charged by the FA over the Mark Clattenburg race row after the referee was found to have no case to answer.

Mikel accused Clattenburg of using racist language towards him during Chelsea’s defeat to Manchester United last month.

Mikel was charged for alleged use of threatening and/or abusive and/or insulting words and/or behaviour in or around the officials changing room.

No action: Mark Clattenburg has no case to answer while John Mikel Obi (right) has been charged by the FANo action: Mark Clattenburg has no case to answer while John Mikel Obi (right) has been charged by the FA

The Nigerian stormed into the ref’s room after the match after being told by team-mate Ramires that Clattenburg had called him a ‘monkey’. Mikel did not hear anything at the time.

He does not deny the charge but will request a personal hearing to explain the mitigating circumstances. There has been no apology from the club.

Clattenburg hasn’t refereed a game since and is now clear to return to official duty. He will be named on Friday for one of the fixtures next midweek.

He spoke of his relief and said the last few weeks had been ‘the most stressful of his life’.

Clattenburg said: ‘I am looking forward to putting this behind me and concentrating on refereeing in the Premier League and other competitions.

‘I am extremely grateful for the invaluable support of my family, my Select Group colleagues, the management of Professional Game Match Officials Limited and our union Prospect. The messages of encouragement from those inside and outside of the game have helped me through the most stressful time of my professional life.

Sitting out: Clattenburg has not taken charge of a game since the match against Manchester United last monthSitting out: Clattenburg has not taken charge of a game since the match against Manchester United last month

‘To know you were innocent of something but that there was the opportunity for it to wreck your career was truly frightening.

‘Racism has no place in football and this experience should not discourage those to speak out if they genuinely believe they are a victim of abuse. However, there are processes that should be adhered in order that any investigation can be carried out in a manner that is fair for all parties involved.

‘I know first-hand the ramifications of allegations of this nature being placed into the public domain ahead of a formal process and investigation. I hope no referee has to go through this in the future.’

Chelsea provided unbroadcast video footage of the game from static cameras on FA’s request.

Back to work: Clattenburg has missed four weeks of Premier League fixtures since the controversial gameBack to work: Clattenburg has missed four weeks of Premier League fixtures since the controversial game

The FA said the evidence had been considered by independent QC David Waters who ruled Ramires’ claim was not supported by any other evidence and disputed by the other match officials.

An FA statement added: ‘Moreover it was contradicted by other witnesses and does not cross the evidential threshold required to bring a charge against Mark Clattenburg.

‘Having considered Counsel’s opinion, and in view of all the circumstances of the case, The FA does not believe that there is a case for Mr Clattenburg to answer.’

Alan Leighton, national secretary of Prospect, the referees union, would like Chelsea to apologise and compensate Clattenburg for what he has been through.

‘There was no doubt he was innocent,’ he told Sky Sports News. ‘There are lessons to be learned. Mark is very upset that his reputation has been dragged through the mud by this process, there was no need for Chelsea to make the public aware of the allegation.

‘There is also an issue of flimsiness about the evidence provided. We need Chelsea to accept the verdict, apologise to Mark and compensate him for that.’

FULL STATEMENTS FROM CHELSEA, MARK CLATTENBURG AND THE FA

CHELSEA STATEMENT

‘Chelsea Football Club accepts the Football Association’s decision regarding Mark Clattenburg and welcomes the fact that the FA recognises the club and players were correct in reporting the matter.

‘The FA states Chelsea took the correct action following the Manchester United match and encourages all players who believe they have been either subject, or witness, to discriminatory abuse to report the matter immediately to the match officials on the day, and in turn to the FA.

‘The club also notes the charge brought against John Mikel Obi. While the player does not deny the charge, he will request a personal hearing to explain the mitigating circumstances.

‘With regards to the Mark Clattenburg decision, the club accepts the case is now concluded and notes the FA states the allegation was made in good faith.

‘Chelsea FC cooperated fully with the FA and provided 11 witness statements covering all events during and after the Premier League game on October 28.

‘Chelsea FC has a duty of care, as do all employers, to act responsibly when such allegations are reported by employees.

‘We did not take the decision to lodge a formal complaint with the FA lightly and followed the correct processes and protocols throughout.

‘The club carried out a thorough investigation, led by outside legal counsel, using all information available to us. As the FA makes clear, it is not uncommon for investigations to lead to no disciplinary charge being brought.

‘All those directly involved have been subjected to scrutiny over the last weeks. Chelsea FC now hopes that all concerned can continue to carry out their duties without prejudice.

‘We are committed to working alongside all referees and their assistants to ensure games are conducted in the right spirit and that all our players and staff accept and observe the match officials’ authority and decisions.’

MARK CLATTENBURG STATEMENT

‘I am looking forward to putting this behind me and concentrating on refereeing in the Premier League and other competitions.

‘I am extremely grateful for the invaluable support of my family, my Select Group colleagues, the management of Professional Game Match Officials Limited and our union Prospect.

‘The messages of encouragement from those inside and outside of the game have helped me through the most stressful time of my professional life.

‘To know you were innocent of something but that there was the opportunity for it to wreck your career was truly frightening.

‘Racism has no place in football and this experience should not discourage those to speak out if they genuinely believe they are a victim of abuse.

‘However, there are processes that should be adhered in order that any investigation can be carried out in a manner that is fair for all parties involved.

‘I know first-hand the ramifications of allegations of this nature being placed into the public domain ahead of a formal process and investigation. I hope no referee has to go through this in the future.

‘We are all fortunate to be working in the worlds most watched and scrutinised football league. With that comes a responsibility in regard to how the different parts of the game work together.

‘What has happened over the last few weeks should not overshadow the fact the on-pitch relationship between match officials, players and managers is the best we’ve ever known it.

‘We are proud of the integrity of refereeing in this country and I cannot wait to be back involved in the game I care so passionately about.’

FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION STATEMENT

‘The FA has concluded its investigation into alleged misconduct by Mark Clattenburg during the match between Chelsea FC and Manchester United FC on Sunday 28 October 2012. No disciplinary action will follow against Mr Clattenburg.

‘Following the conclusion of the match, Chelsea FC reported to the match delegate that two of their players had been separately subject to abuse by the match referee, Mark Clattenburg.

‘On Monday 29 October 2012, The FA contacted Chelsea FC to establish whether the club and individual players wished to make a formal complaint in relation to the allegations reported to the match delegate.

‘On Wednesday 31 October Chelsea FC contacted The FA and confirmed that the club had conducted an internal enquiry and that they did wish to proceed with a formal complaint in relation to one of the allegations of abuse. The club did not wish to proceed in relation to the other allegation. The club provided witness statements from two players, Ramires Santos do Nascimento (“Ramires”) and John Obi Mikel.

‘The details of the allegation were that following one or the other of the red cards issued during the second half of the game, Ramires heard Mark Clattenburg say to John Obi Mikel, “shut up you monkey”. John Obi Mikel did not hear the alleged comment.

‘On 1 November 2012, The FA requested that Chelsea disclose full details of their internal investigation.

‘On 5 November 2012, Chelsea FC provided The FA with witness statements from other Chelsea FC players and officials.

‘On 5 November 2012, The FA interviewed Ramires and John Obi Mikel, using the TV match footage obtained by The FA.

‘Between 7 and 8 November 2012, The FA interviewed all four match officials.

‘On 9 and 14 November 2012, further to FA requests, Chelsea FC provided unbroadcast video footage of the game from static cameras.

‘On 15 November 2012, The FA re-interviewed Ramires to show him the previously unseen video footage provided by the club. At this stage, for the first time, the exact point at which the comment was alleged to have been made was established.

‘In light of this new information, between 15 and 19 November 2012, The FA interviewed the players who were in the vicinity of the alleged incident, and re-interviewed John Obi Mikel and the match officials.

‘Chelsea FC was offered the opportunity to provide any further information or evidence that they believed could be relevant to the allegation.

‘The FA then sought advice on the evidence gathered from independent Queen’s Counsel.

‘The evidence for the allegation came from one witness, Ramires. Ramires, whose first language is not English, explained that his instinctive reaction was to seek confirmation from John Obi Mikel as to what the referee had said.

‘John Mikel Obi, who was being spoken to by the referee, was much closer to the referee than Ramires and did not hear what it is suggested was said to him.

Three other witnesses, i.e. the other match officials, to whom everything said by referee was relayed via their communication equipment, are adamant the alleged words were not uttered.

‘There is nothing in the video footage to support the allegation.

‘For completeness, but of lesser weight, two other players, whose first language is English and were in the vicinity, did not hear anything untoward.

‘Having considered all of the available evidence it was the opinion of David Waters QC, independent counsel, that the evidence of Ramires was not supported by any other evidence.

‘Moreover it was contradicted by other witnesses and does not cross the evidential threshold required to bring a charge against Mark Clattenburg.

‘Having considered Counsel’s opinion, and in view of all the circumstances of the case, The FA does not believe that there is a case for Mr Clattenburg to answer.

‘Equally The FA is satisfied that the allegation against Mark Clattenburg by Ramires was made in good faith. It is entirely possible for a witness to be genuinely mistaken and convincing in his belief.

‘The FA receives and investigates numerous allegations of misconduct over the course of a season. All allegations are properly investigated. It is not uncommon for investigations to lead to no disciplinary charge being brought.

‘The FA encourages all players who believe they have been either subject, or witness to, discriminatory abuse to report the matter immediately to the match officials on the day.

‘Furthermore, all Participants are advised to report any such alleged misconduct to The FA. In this case, the player and club were correct in reporting the matter to The FA and it was appropriate and proper for such an allegation to be thoroughly investigated.’

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