Adam Lovejoy writes from London: Here’s a bit of surrealism for you: people can be accused of racist abuse in good faith. Yep, that’s what has transpired this week from the English Football Association’s investigation into claims by a Chelsea player that a referee had used racist language against his team comrade during a tense match with Manchester United.
In case you need your memory refreshed, cast your weary eyes back to last month’s tense match between the old rivals at Stamford Bridge when referee Mark Clattenburg sent off two Chelsea players, with the Blues eventually losing to the Reds. Now, during a verbal confrontation with John Obi Mikel the ref, according to vigilant Chelsea’s Ramires Santos, called the black player a ‘monkey’. Something along the lines of: ‘Shut your mouth monkey.’ As a result, speedy Santos reported his observations to his superiors after the game, who then made a formal complaint to the FA. Clattenburg was immediately suspended and a painstaking investigation was launched into the incident. The Association of Black Lawyers – yes, there is such a fine body of men in existence – went into an overdrive, accusing the FA and English football generally of racism, in the hope of scoring some points and putting itself firmly on the map.
The strangest thing of all was that it was painfully clear from the footage of the exchange of words between Clattenburg and Mikel that no offensive language was used by the ref and the expression on the player’s face was clear proof of it. He accepted the put down with obedience that we would not have seen if any offensive language had been used.
Having conducted its investigation, the FA has concluded – to the disappointment of people who like to stay vigilant during football matches in case any racial abuse takes place – that no disciplinary action was needed against Clattenburg. But here comes the really great bit. The FA also expressed its firm belief that Ramires had made his complaint in good faith. Yep, there he was, Ramires Santos, standing there, watching his friend and co-player standing up against the violent thug Clattenburg, when he heard – all in good faith, mind you – the word ‘monkey’ brought up. And so, in good faith, the punk decided to make life hell for the referee who blew his team’s chance of winning that night. And so he did what any good decent person would have done – reported the whole thing to his team.
The funniest thing of all is that the FA charged Mikel for using abusive language in the vicinity of the changing room of the match officials after the game. The only hope is that Obi made his comments in good faith as well and will get off lightly, to keep playing the game he loves so much. Along with his mate Ramires, who stood up for him at a difficult time and made life hell for some ‘motherf..ker’. In a nice way.