Any football fan will happily admit that referees have it tough most of the time from the grass roots all the way up to the pinnacle of the game. Chelsea’s defeat against Manchester United produced some questionable decisions by referee Mark Clattenburg who allegedly verbally abused John Obi Mikel and Juan Mata at points during the game.
If the allegations are true then it could well be the end of the referee’s career in the professional game. It’s important to point out that we are simply talking about poor language, there was no racial abuse in the alleged comments. However, if it’s true then it puts referees all over England under pressure and they could get even more abuse from players than they already receive.
The possible reasoning for any verbal reaction from Clattenburg during the match is obviously down to the decisions he made. He sent off defender Branislav Ivanovic, the correct decision, and also striker Fernando Torres, arguably the correct decision. It is possible that at this point the rest of the Chelsea players on the pitch could have ripped into the referee for effectively losing them the game.
Referees are human beings like everyone else and the longer and more prolonged that someone is abused, they are more likely to react to that abuse by producing verbal abuse of their own. Football is unlike many other sports in the respect that the way referees are treated with basic standards. For example, Rugby Union players are still required to call the referee sir.
“PGMO (Professional Game Match Officials) is aware of the allegations and they are being treated with the utmost seriousness. Mark will co-operate fully and welcomes the opportunity for the facts to be established,” read a PGMO statement.
It’s impossible to judge this situation until Clattenburg has been able to put his view and his comments forward. They could well have been completely misinterpreted by Mikel and Mata who are the alleged targets of what Clattenburg is supposed to have said. It would well be an over reaction on the part of Chelsea at the way they lost the game. Had they held out for a 2-2 draw or had events gone the other way then it’s highly unlikely that this would even be a talking point this morning.
image: © geetarchurchy