I have no personal attachment to either Mark or Chelsea Football Club, so there is no underlying motive for this article. Other publications have speculated on what was said and by whom, but it appears to be all conjecture and rumour at this stage.
All we know for sure the Stamford Bridge incident has caused a huge ripple effect that shows no sign of abating. Leaving this complex situation for authorities to scrutinise, I want to look further down the line of investigation.
What if the verdict of these claims of racism were at best a misunderstanding or, at worst, erroneous?
How would the game of football and the FA react? Racism is always a complex subject of discussion. As with other race related cases, the man at the eye of this storm is proclaiming his innocence.
If Mark Clattenburg did use “inappropriate language” towards Mikel, or any Chelsea player for that matter, then his punishment must reflect the level of his crime; there is no doubt about that.
But If the FA and the Metropolitan Police decide that John Obi Mikel did falsify his claim against Mark Clattenburg, then the FA have an extremely complicated job on their hands. What would be their next step?
In my opinion, attempting to discredit a FIFA referee should lead to Chelsea, and the accuser, receiving severe punishment. There are two reasons behind my thinking.
Firstly, to abuse your position as a young footballer by attempting to destroy a man’s career, all over a controversial game of football, is as unacceptable as is it appalling. Secondly, this will put other claims of racism under the microscope, making players who have been racially abused fearful of speaking out.
Racism needs to be eradicated from the football and the only way we can do that is through unity and honesty. False claims will just make it even harder for campaigns like Kick It Out to succeed.
Just last night, Chelsea have lodged a formal complaint to the FA over Clattenburg’s alleged comments. Personally, I hope it is just a simple misunderstanding, a communication breakdown between the player and the official.
That is the only outcome that allows the football family to breathe a collective sigh of relief. Erroneous claims, in any industry, have a detrimental effect for people who are being, or have been, racially abused.
Nobody wants that scenario but nobody wants to believe these claims by Chelsea are true either. The FA’s verdict, and subsequent punishment, will have long-lasting implications for all future claims of racism.
Where do you stand on the issue?
image: © Ben Sutherland