London – For a cabal that has found it easy to spread so much insinuation and so many insults about so many innocent parties, Chelsea cannot bring themselves to utter the one appropriate word.
Sorry was not to be heard in the wind howling down Fulham Road on Thursday. It was as predictable an omission as it was sad.
The FA had found the club’s accusation that referee Mark Clattenburg called John Mikel Obi a ‘monkey’ did not stand up to scrutiny. All logic and instinct had told us that the minute the claim was made on October 28 following Chelsea’s acrimonious defeat by Manchester United.
Sky TV had failed with all 20 of their cameras to pick up the racial slur. The other officials cleared Clattenburg of wrongdoing. Chelsea had a record of intimidation and arrogance.
What is more, Clattenburg speaks with a Geordie accent. Anyone who has spent a time in a Newcastle pub will tell you how those tones can be faintly indecipherable to English ears let alone to a Brazilian, namely Ramires, who thought he heard the insult despite the backdrop of a noisy stadium. Ramires’ recollections were translated for the rest of the team by David Luiz, another Brazilian. Mikel, the supposed victim who has good English, did not hear the word monkey spoken.
Despite all this – and after the shameful saga of John Terry, Chelsea’s totem, calling Anton Ferdinand a black **** – the club were going public within hours about Clattenburg’s supposed crime. They also claimed Juan Mata was called a ‘Spanish t***’, an accusation later withdrawn.
Why did they not keep quiet while they considered if a complaint was worthwhile? That is a question for Ron Gourlay, the chief executive. A second question for him is: will you resign after this fiasco?
Harsh? Hardly. This is a club drunk on its own oxygen and wealth.
Take Rafa Benitez’s unveiling on Thursday as the ninth manager of Roman Abramovich’s nine-year reign. He is the latest pawn in a billionaire’s game where normal employment rights – like reward for success – do not count because he can afford to override them.
No wonder the men on the pitch and in the boardroom adopt such high-handedness when the boss sets such a rebarbative example.
The litany of modern Chelsea’s bullying of referees is without parallel in British football.
The crime sheet goes back as far as February 2005, when the then manager Jose Mourinho accused Anders Frisk of collusion with Barcelona boss Frank Rijkaard during Chelsea’s defeat at the Nou Camp that saw Didier Drogba sent off. Chelsea were charged with inappropriate conduct. Mourinho banned from the touchline and Frisk retired after receiving death threats.
Mourinho was cast as an “enemy of football” by Uefa referees’ committee chairman Volker Roth.
Since then the wrath has been incited not just on the continent but also closer to home. Chelsea have gone from the enemies of European football to the pariahs of the Premier League.
In November 2006, Graham Poll sent off John Terry as Chelsea lost to Tottenham for the first time in 16 years. Terry accused the referee of changing his explanation over why he had shown the red card.
The delightful Ashley Cole chimed in, saying Poll had warned Chelsea players he wanted to “teach us a lesson”. A fortnight later, Chelsea withdrew the accusation and Terry was fined £10,000.
Fast forward to May 2009, when Norwegian Tom Henning Ovrebo turned down four Chelsea penalty appeals. Admittedly, it was a shocking refereeing performance but not as wayward as the reaction of Drogba and Jose Bosingwa, who both turned on Ovrebo at the final whistle. Drogba screamed ‘It’s a f***ing disgrace’ into a television camera. Ovrebo was still being subjected to vile emails from Chelsea fans as late as this spring.
Last October after that infamous game against QPR, Chelsea were fined £20,000 for failing to control their players. Drogba and Bosingwa were dismissed in the first half. Manager Andre Villas-Boas called it a “very poor display” – by the referee, that is, not his players.
The unfortunate referee then was Chris Foy. By coincidence, he takes charge of Chelsea’s game against Manchester City on Sunday.
So back to Chelsea’s weasel words on Thursday in response to the FA findings. They said: “Chelsea FC has a duty of care, as do all employers, to act responsibly when such allegations are reported by employees.”
It smacked of the usual one-eyed, self-serving nonsense that fails to acknowledge a wider obligation to football itself or the lightly trampled reputation of a blameless referee.
We are Chelsea. We snarl and we smear. Who says we should say sorry? – Daily Mail