In what was seen by many as an acrimonious decision by the FA, Jon Obi Mikel was handed a 3-match ban and fined £60,000 by the FA after he pleaded guilty to an FA charge of threatening and abusing referee Mark Clattenburg. The ban came as a surprise to many fans who felt that the FA was unfairly punishing Mikel who was, in this case, a victim of alleged racial abuse from Clattenburg. However, after analyzing the whole situation from an unbiased perspective, I have come to the conclusion that it’s not at all surprising that Mikel was charged and that Clattenburg walked away scot-free. Oh, and before you decide to abuse me or label me a plastic, please hear me out.
Chelsea were right in lodging a complaint against Clattenburg and that was something even the FA acknowledged when they said in their statement,”The FA is satisfied that the allegation against Mark Clattenburg by Ramires was made in good faith….. in this case, the player and club were correct in reporting the matter to The FA and it was appropriate and proper for such an allegation to be thoroughly investigated”. However, the problem lay in the evidence provided. Chelsea’s main witness was Ramires, who clearly stated that he heard the alleged comment and then sought to confirm from Mikel after the match whether or not he heard the same. However, it’s worth noting that English isn’t Ramires’ first language and Mikel later confirmed to the FA that he did not hear Mark Clattenburg utter the words “shut up you monkey” (the alleged racial slur) during the match despite being much closer to the ref than Ramires. Strike 1.
Ramires was not the only witness interviewed by the FA. The 3 other match officials were also interviewed, and they were convinced that they did not hear Clattenburg say anything racist to Mikel. Nowadays, referees use communication equipment to communicate with one another during matches. So the proof provided by the officials can be trusted as they could hear everything that Clattenburg might or might not have said through their equipment. Further, 2 other players whose first language is English were interviewed by the FA (no names were disclosed). These players were said to be within earshot of the whole situation and stated that they heard nothing. Therefore, the evidence provided by Chelsea, consisting of unseen footage from the match (which actually proved nothing in the end) and Ramires’ statement was not sufficient to charge Mark Clattenburg and was in fact heavily contradicted by other evidence provided. Strike 2.
Lastly, lets look at why Mikel was charged. After the match against United had ended, Ramires told Mikel that he heard Clattenburg call him a monkey. Upon hearing this, Mikel confronted Clattenburg in the referees dressing room and allegedly abused and even threatened him. While Mikel’s reaction is justifiable to the extent that he believed he had been racially abused by Clattenburg, it was still a silly thing to do. Given the fact that Mikel was in a pretty disturbed state of mind at that point of time, someone (one of the players or even Ron Gourlay, who was allegedly present when Mikel confronted Clattenburg) should have attempted to talk some sense into him and make him realise that his actions will have consequences. The only reason Mikel was let off lightly by the FA (yes he was) is because they accepted that Mikel only confronted Clattenburg because he believed that Clattenburg had called him a monkey. Strike 3.
Truth be told, we need to put this entire situation behind us instead of playing the victim. Everything was blown way out of proportion by the media (not surprising at all) and that made the situation even worse, if possible. We did the right thing by reporting the incident but the investigation came to nothing. That’s that, end of story. No point taking this any further.