POLICE have launched a formal investigation into whether referee Mark Clattenburg used “inappropriate language” towards Chelsea stars John Obi Mikel and Juan Mata on Sunday.
The Metropolitan Police confirmed they had acted on a “complaint” from the Society of Black Lawyers after the European champions accused referee Clattenburg of using comments understood to have been interpreted as racist in the club’s acrimonious defeat to Manchester United on Sunday.
It is understood the 37-year-old completely denies the allegations against him, which are also the subject of a Football Association investigation.
Clattenburg and his fellow professionals were said to be shocked and angered by the claims as the refereeing fraternity rallied around their colleague.
There were also suggestions of seething resentment in some quarters at the way Chelsea had made their complaint against Clattenburg public and a desire to see strong action taken against them if the official is cleared.
That could take weeks or even months after the police announced their own probe into events in Sunday’s Premier League game at Stamford Bridge, less than 24 hours after the FA’s investigation began. English football’s governing body could yet postpone their inquiry if the police request they do so, something they came under heavy fire for during the year-long John Terry scandal.
Chelsea, Mikel and Mata have so far chosen not to complain to the police, and Professional Footballers’ Association chief executive Gordon Taylor said: “Involving police or waiting causes a massive festering of the issue, which has continued to cause problems and is not good for the image of the game.
“Football has got to be confident enough to deal with it. I have said that to the House of Commons, the FA Council.
“We need to grasp the nettle and show we are more than capable of dealing with it.”
He added: “I’m quite concerned that when this happened with the John Terry and Anton Ferdinand incident, the process got elongated. This time, I want football to learn from it and deal with it as transparently as possible.”