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Clattenburg: Mikel and Chelsea row could have been ‘worse than going to prison’

The former referee opened up on how the London club accused him of racism when he handled the Blues versus Red Devils showdown years ago

Former referee Mark Clattenburg has revealed how the John Obi Mikel and Juan Mata incident almost cost him his career in 2012.

The English official took charge of the Premier League showdown in which Manchester United defeated Chelsea 3-2 at Stamford Bridge in October 2012.

In the ill-tempered encounter, Branislav Ivanovic, and Fernando Torres were given their marching orders.

The Football Association investigated Clattenburg after the Blues claimed he had used racist language towards African star Mikel and Spain’s Mata, but the referee was soon cleared of any misconduct.

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In his autobiography ‘Whistle Blower’ as per The Daily Mail, the 46-year-old wrote that the contentious incident almost cost him his job.

“I knew to expect a tirade of abuse from Chelsea supporters, but I was not beating myself up over my performance. It was then that I heard a commotion outside the dressing-room door,” wrote Clattenburg.

“Before I get to the door it swings open, and with some force. John Obi Mikel bursts in and I can see the rage in his eyes. Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo and coach Eddie Newton are holding him back.

“Mikel is out of control; he’s trying to get at me. ‘I’m gonna break your legs!’ he shouts. “He’s swinging for me.

“I have to be clear here – and this is extremely important – at this point, there had been no mention of racism to me, either from Mikel or Di Matteo. No one had made any accusation of that nature.”

Clattenburg, John Obi Mikel

“I left Stamford Bridge in the people-carrier and as we made our way out of West London towards Heathrow, there’s a social-media notification on the screen of my phone saying: ‘BREAKING NEWS: CHELSEA ACCUSE REFEREE MARK CLATTENBURG OF RACIST COMMENTS’,” he continued.

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“During those early hours overnight on the Sunday of the game, I realised the power of football clubs, the hold they have over the media. It was terrifying. It was the European champions against a referee – who would you believe?

“I am trapped. This could ruin my career. It could ruin my life. The fear is worse than going to prison. I am being called a racist.

“That is a real life-sentence, you don’t come back from that. Guilty until proven innocent, that is the English way.”

While the FA investigated Chelsea’s complaint, Clattenburg missed four weekends of Premier League matches.

However, he was soon cleared with the FA handing Mikel a three-match ban and fined £60,000 for threatening the referee.

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