LONDON (AFP) – Chelsea expressed Tuesday their “regrets” over the way they complained of racist abuse by referee Mark Clattenburg.
The European champions, in a a joint statement with referees’ body Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) and the Premier League, admitted they should have “given more consideration” before making their allegation public.
Last week the Football Association (FA) decided to take no disciplinary action whatsoever against Clattenburg following an investigation into Chelsea’s allegation he used “inappropriate language” against midfielder John Obi Mikel.
That followed an earlier decision by police to end their enquiries into the incident due to a lack of evidence.
Chelsea said Tueeday they “would welcome Mark Clattenburg back to Stamford Bridge in the future and PGMOL would have no issue in appointing him to a Chelsea FC match going forward”.
The London club also said it regretted the “intense media scrutiny” Clattenburg had faced as a result of their allegations.
Last week the FA said there was “no case to answer” over allegations Clattenburg said “shut up you monkey” to the Nigeria midfielder during Chelsea’s 3-2 Premier League defeat by Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on October 28.
Tuesday’s statement followed a meeting Monday that included Clattenburg, the remaining Select Group referees, Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck, PGMOL general manager Mike Riley and Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore.
It said: “The club regrets not having given more consideration before issuing a statement on the evening of Sunday 28th October.
“The club also regrets the subsequent impact the intense media scrutiny had on Mark Clattenburg and his family.
“The referees accept that, given Chelsea FC had received a good faith claim from one of their employees, the club had an obligation under FA rules to report the allegation.
“There was recognition by all parties that the impartiality and integrity of refereeing in this country remains paramount.
“Chelsea FC made it clear they would welcome Mark Clattenburg back to Stamford Bridge in the future and PGMOL would have no issue in appointing him to a Chelsea FC match going forward.
“All parties now believe it is time to draw a line under this incident, learn from it and move on for the good of all Premier League clubs, players and match officials.”
Chelsea’s statement stopped short of the complete apology to Clattenburg some within English football had been demanding, with the referee and his fellow officials particularly incensed by the club’s decision to make their complaint public within hours of the final whistle.
Last week Clattenburg issued a statement of his own, saying: “To know you were innocent of something but that there was the opportunity for it to wreck your career was truly frightening.”
He added: “I know first hand the ramifications of allegations of this nature being placed into the public domain ahead of a formal process and investigation. I hope no referee has to go through this in the future.”
The Clattenburg incident came at a sensitive time for Chelsea, who’d defended captain John Terry before the centre-half accepted a four-game domestic ban for racially abusing QPR defender Anton Ferdinand in a match last year.
Clattenburg will referee the Premier League match between Southampton and Norwich on Wednesday, the first time he has taken charge of a match since the allegations surfaced.