Clattenburg deserves an apology and more from Chelsea
Published: 24.11.12 / Written by: David Gold
Chelsea’s refusal to show any remorse towards Mark Clattenburg is rather vile.
Any football fan will have had a referee they reviled or taunt for supposed bias against their team. For me, I’ve always been rather sceptical of Phil Dowd for his questionable performance during Newcastle’s comeback 4-4 draw with Arsenal, where he gave two non-existent penalties and sent off Abou Diaby in questionable circumstances.
But then Dowd did recently give Arsenal an extremely lucky penalty against Fulham, which natural justice saw saved by Mark Schwarzer, so maybe he’s not so bad after all. Either way, I would never want Dowd’s career or reputation to be destroyed by a false allegation.
That almost happened to Clattenburg, who Chelsea accused of using racist language towards John Mikel Obi in the aftermath of their heated 3-2 defeat to Manchester United. As it happened, Ramires was the player who heard the supposed abuse, but he barely speaks English. I speak more of Ramires’ native Portuguese than he speaks English. And in the heat of a noisy stadium, I would barely be able to make out someone saying the most basic of Portuguese phrases that I would usually understand. So how Ramires could be so certain about what he heard is beyond understanding.
As it is, Ramires, as the FA said, is within his rights to be convinced about what he heard yet wrong. As it is, Chelsea have accepted the FA’s verdict that there is simply no case to answer. There is little doubt the FA used the opportunity to have a subtle dig at Chelsea by timing their announcement just before the unveiling of Rafa Benitez as Chelsea’s new manager.
But in refusing to offer an apology or any compensation for Clattenburg Chelsea have scored a gigantic own goal. This is a team who defended John Terry against using racist language for a year, only for the player himself to end up admitting he used the words he was accused of, even if he maintains the context was not an abusively racist one.
Clattenburg has clearly been wronged. No matter his errors on the pitch, no referee or any individual deserves to have their name and reputation dragged through the mud for something they didn’t do, with the flimsiest of evidence. Then there is the money he has lost from not refereeing. The referee may well find himself getting a rousing reception when he deservedly returns to the field from most rival fans, and so Clattenburg has at least got the unique opportunity to be a referee with public support. That Chelsea remain alone against him, with not a shred of evidence against the referee, underlines the warped moral position the club have got themselves into. Chelsea must apologise, admit they are wrong and make a sizeable donation to a charity on behalf of Clattenburg, as well as recompense him. Anything short of that will confirm to neutrals that Chelsea are a team without a moral compass, a rogue team deserving little respect from their rivals and fans alike.