The Football Association has cleared referee Mark Clattenburg of using “inappropriate language” towards Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel.
The Blues had claimed Clattenburg directed racial language at Mikel in their home defeat by Manchester United.
The evidence for Chelsea’s allegation towards Clattenburg came from their midfielder Ramires who, when interviewed, explained that his instinctive reaction was to seek confirmation from Mikel as to what the referee said.
Mikel, who was being spoken to by Clattenburg, was much closer than Ramires and did not hear what it is suggested was said to him.
The two assistant referees and the fourth official revealed they did not hear any of the comments Clattenburg was accused of making, despite being linked up to the referee via microphones.
An FA statement also said the complaint by Ramires was “made in good faith”.
Clattenburg has always maintained his innocence and the Metropolitan Police dropped its own inquiry earlier this month.
He missed four weekends of Premier League matches while the FA investigated Chelsea’s complaint.
“I am looking forward to putting this behind me and concentrating on refereeing in the Premier League and other competitions,” said Clattenburg.
“The messages of encouragement from those inside and outside of the game have helped me through the most stressful time of my professional life.
“To know you were innocent but there was the opportunity for it to wreck your career was truly frightening.
“Racism has no place in football and this experience should not discourage those to speak out if they genuinely believe they are a victim of abuse.
“However, there are processes that should be adhered to in order that any investigation can be carried out in a manner that is fair for all parties involved.
“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 case following so soon after John Terry was suspended has really tarnished Chelsea’s image and reputation. It didn’t help that Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck was in front of this story last week telling everyone that would listen that Chelsea had been right to potentially ruin one of England’s best referee’s with this accusation. What Chelsea needs to do is apologize to Clattenburg for putting him through hell for the last four weeks. Something they pointedly did not do in their press release tonight.