LONDON: The football/racism clock has been turned back a year after the Metropolitan Police confirmed it in investigating whether referee Mark Clattenburg used “inappropriate language” on Sunday towards Chelsea stars John Obi Mikel and Juan Mata writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

Police are acting on a complaint from the Society of Black Lawyers after the Blues accused referee Clattenburg of using comments understood to have been interpreted as racist in the club’s turbulent 3-2 home defeat by Manchester United.

FIFA referee Clattenburg, 37, rejects the allegations which are also the subject of a Football Association 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.

“Officers from Hammersmith & Fulham borough are in liaison with Chelsea Football Club and the Football Association. 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.”

Complaint registered

The FA, as in the John Terry case which erupted in October last year, would have no option but its own inquiry on ice if the police decided to take the issue significantly further. The complaint to the police had been issued by Peter Herbert of the Society of Black Lawyers. Herbert had been a high-profile supporter of the proposal that black players might launch their own union out of a frustration at the lack of effective action on the discrimination front by the mainstream football authorities.

Herbert said: “What we don’t want is for it to be swept away under the carpet. It must be subject to a full and proper investigation. It is to lend some seriousness and some weight behind what is happening in football.

“This appears to have had some cogency and so it needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency. I think the Met Police have huge resources, expertise, and I have no doubt that this matter will be resolved and the truth will come out.

“If we’ve got this completely wrong then, of course, the police will tell us.”

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.”

Clattenburg and his assistants are expected to be interviewed by the police and the FA and he has already submitted a written account about what took place during Sunday’s match.

He and his linesman had already been the focus of controversy over the expulsion of Chelsea’s Fernando Torres and the awarding of United’s winning goal despite an apparent offside infringement by scorer Javier Hernandez.

After the match Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo, assistant manager Eddie Newton and chief executive Ron Gourlay were all reportedly present in the referees’ changing rooms when Mikel accused Clattenburg of having abused him during the match.

Assistants Michael McDonough, Simon Long and Michael Jones, who were all miked up to Clattenburg, denied hearing anything improper.

Clattenburg will not referee any matches this coming weekend.

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