x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Police drop probe of Chelsea's racism claims against referee

No victims have come forward but the club ends public silence and says racist claims against Clattenburg are not baseless.

Mark Clattenburg, right, alleged to have made racist remarks towards two Chelsea players.
Mark Clattenburg, right, alleged to have made racist remarks towards two Chelsea players.

LONDON // Police last night dropped an investigation into the football referee Mark Clattenburg's alleged use of inappropriate language during a match after no victim came forward.

Scotland Yard said an investigation was launched into alleged comments made during a football match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on October 28.

Police said in a statement: "Inquiries were made and no victims have come forward. The matter will remain as a recorded incident. Without a victim and/or any evidence that any offence has been committed, the matter cannot currently be investigated.

"If the situation changes and a victim and/or evidence to support an allegation of a crime comes to police attention, then further inquiries will … be made."

The 37-year-old referee returned to training with the top-flight Select Group of referees last weekend for the first time since Chelsea's complaint.

Chelsea have alleged that Clattenburg used a term understood to have been interpreted as racist towards the midfielder John Obi Mikel. The official strenuously denies having done so.

Clattenburg and referees chief Mike Riley decided jointly that he should not be in charge of matches while the case has been going on.

The English Football Association is yet to make a decision on the matter after conducting its own investigation.

Chelsea went public for the first time yesterday with detailed allegations against a referee, saying there was no misunderstanding and that its players heard Clattenburg use the word "monkey" during the match.

Bruce Buck, the chairman, opted to end Chelsea's public silence on the claims that raises new concerns about football's fight against racism.

The European champions have been criticised for lodging a complaint with the FA while still backing their captain John Terry, who has just served a four-match ban for racially abusing an opponent.

But Buck said in the London Evening Standard that Chelsea had a duty to report the allegations after Mikel and Ramires said they heard the offending word.

"Suppose we had tried to sweep this under the rug and said to the various players, 'Look, it's not a big deal and the press are going to be all over us, maybe you want to reconsider'," Buck was quoted as saying in yesterday's edition of the paper. "If that had leaked out, we would've really been crucified." Buck is sure the allegations are not baseless, amid suggestions the players might have misheard Clattenburg.

"I spoke to the players involved, either because they were allegedly the recipient of that abuse or had heard it, three separate times," the American lawyer said. "I asked them if they could be mistaken. I asked them if they might have heard 'Mikel' instead of 'monkey'. I thought I had covered that base.

"Looking into the players' eyes, I could see they were unhappy but no player or staff demanded that we file a complaint. They gave us their statements. The decision was made by us, the Chelsea management."

He added: "We have to divorce the John Terry situation from this. From our perspective, the latest situation was pretty straightforward. We have an obligation to report what may be misconduct. We did that, in good faith and not maliciously."

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