London: The police have launched a formal investigation into allegations Mark Clattenburg used “inappropriate language” towards John Obi Mikel and Juan Mata during Chelsea’s Premier League defeat to Manchester United.
The Metropolitan Police confirmed they had acted on what they described as a “complaint” made by the Society of Black Lawyers after Chelsea accused referee Clattenburg of using comments that are understood to have been interpreted as racist remarks.
It is understood the 37-year-old completely rejects the allegations against him — that he called Mikel a “monkey” and Mata a “Spanish t**t” — which are also the subject of a Football Association (FA) investigation.
A police statement read: “An investigation has been launched into alleged comments made during a football match between Chelsea FC and Manchester United FC at Stamford Bridge on 28 October 2012.
“We continue to work in partnership with Chelsea Football Club and the Football Association in order to consider any allegation that is made in relation to the reported events.”
The police probe came less than 24 hours after the FA launched its own investigation, which it must now decide whether to continue or postpone until after potential criminal proceedings are concluded.
Should the FA continue with its probe, it is expected to interview Clattenburg, possibly after requesting a written account from him about what took place on Sunday.
Sources claim that Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo, assistant manager Eddie Newton and chief executive Ron Gourlay were all present as Mikel angrily accused Clattenburg of abusing him.
The referee, his assistants and fourth official are understood to have been stunned by the claims, with Michael McDonough, Simon Long and Michael Jones denying hearing anything of that nature via the officials' microphone link-up.
Chelsea host United again in Wednesday’s League Cup fourth-round match and although teams often rest leading players in the competition, the clash will take on extra significance given the controversy surrounding Sunday’s encounter.
Meanwhile, it is being claimed that Mata did not hear Clattenburg make any racist comments. Chelsea have alleged that the referee called Mikel a “monkey” and Mata a “Spanish t**t”. But Oriol Romeu, who was an unused Chelsea substitute, has revealed that Mata did not hear the alleged racist remarks.
“Neither Juan nor Fernando (Torres) told me they heard it because from what I have understood they didn’t hear anything,” said Romeu.