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It was inevitable; It was unthinkable

979   //    28 Nov 2012, 21:00 IST

“Speak When you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret”

- Anonymous

It was inevitable; It was unthinkable. Referee Mark Clattenburg has been cleared by FA of any racist abuse, whereas John Obi Mikel has been charged for his post-match antics.

From the offset, it seemed unimaginable that a referee would be involved in racially abusing a black player. On the receiving end was John Obi Mikel, who himself had not heard anything as such. The case was based on the flimsiest of the evidences that Chelsea FC used, initially lodging a complaint also citing that Juan Mata was also racially abused by being referred to as a ‘Spanish T**t’; but later decided not to proceed with it owing to a lack of evidence.

And this is right where you wonder why Chelsea decided to go ahead with Mikel’s case and lodged a baseless complaint that threatened to ruin Clattenburg’s Career. When they knew that they had literally no reliable evidence, they could have avoided creating a new fiasco. They almost ruined his career – but to an extent have already damaged his repute.

That probably might have had something to do with the (lenient) ban of 4 games for their captain, John Terry for racially abusing Anton Ferdinand. Chelsea FC were already in the eye of the storm when they decided to take matters into their own hands. In that game against Manchester United, marred by one ‘wrong’ decision – and that’s not of Torres getting a second yellow. In my opinion, he went down too easily and theatrically – perfect ingredients deserving a yellow card – and should have been sent off in the first half itself for his kung-fu kick on Tom Cleverley! Chelsea went down to nine men and soon Manchester United’s Chicharito scored the winning goal from an offside position – THAT was the ‘Wrong’ Decision!

Chelsea and their fans felt hard done by. While some of their fans were busy doctoring Mark Clattenburg’s image in Manchester United colours, some of them were screaming of a conspiracy being hatched against them. Thankfully, Mark Clattenburg got no death threats. Chelsea FC on the other hand, were up in arms. Their players barged into the referees’ room, and almost came to the extent of landing fistblows. These reflect a sorry state of affairs at Chelsea, blowing an issue out of proportion.

Ironically, John Obi Mikel had not heard any of the claimed abuse himself. Mark Clattenburg’s Geordian Accent was overheard by Ramires, who is as good at understanding English as I am at picking up Mandarin!

The FA statement highlighted ‘the essential facts’ that proved that there was no substance in Chelsea’s allegations. It said: “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 Mikel Obi 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.”

The FA said they had to re-interview 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,” the statement continued. The complaint collapsed with the emergence of that video. All the witnesses were then interviewed again, with Ramires even UNSURE as to when the alleged incident had occurred!

So far there has been no statement by Chelsea FC apologising to Mark Clattenburg and compensating him for the torturous treatment he has endured for the last 4 weeks. To further complicate the matters, Chelsea FC came out with their statement: “Chelsea FC 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.” CORRECT IN REPORTING THE MATTER?

Thankfully, they have apologized to the referees’ union, saying that they handled the matter in a wrong manner. But unfortunately for Mark Clattenburg, he has to deal with this issue. The crowd in the stands now would not spare a moment before booing him if they don’t get a decision going their way. One can only wonder the reception Chelsea fans will give him! In my opinion, Chelsea FC must pay for misleading the masses in an attempt to bring down a referee. However, it does not take rocket science to see who will ultimately pay for it – The Innocent, Mark Clattenburg.

Stigma does tend to stick and that is the real unfortunate part. Chelsea FC threatened to ruin his career, but have already done enough to tarnish his repute.

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