Friday, November 2, 2012

The Mark Clattenburg Situation

Racism and football (soccer for those that prefer that term) have not been able to separate themselves from each other in recent times. The most noted cases of late were those involving Evra-Suarez and Ferdinand-Terry. I find it shocking that Rio Ferdinand got away with calling Ashley Cole a racially pejorative term between black Englishmen. I have followed English football since early in 2006 and this flurry of racism cases has been as shocking as it is unsettling. Yet, the most unsettling has been the reaction to Chelsea's formal complaint against Mark Clattenburg. Chelsea have pursued one of two initial complaints, they dropped the case involving, presumably, Juan Mata and have pushed forward with the case involving John Obi Mikel. What has followed has exposed the English game's complete lack of conviction for eliminating racism from the game.

Mark Clattenburg, as of right now, is an innocent man. All of the information that any media outlets have access to consists of speculation. Chelsea have chosen to pursue a formal complaint that one of their players was racially abused by him. Their is a long, drawn out process involving these cases. Have we already forgotten how long the Ferdinand-Terry case took to resolve? Before this game and incident, I had always thought Mr. Clattenburg to be one of the bright, new referees in English football and thought he was always fair in the majority of his officiating decisions. Have English referees made bad calls against Chelsea? Quite a few. A blown game by a referee does not end in racist accusations; referees are human and make bad calls sometimes. However, the accusation of a referee racially abusing a player is a very serious claim.

The issue that worries me is that the media, as a whole, has almost exclusively branded Chelsea as going on a witch hunt for losing the game and as retribution for the ban and fine imposed on club captain, John Terry. Where does this cynicism originate? For years, many have looked at Chelsea as having bought their success by foreign money. Many cited that Roman Abramovich did not care about club image and was out for blood in this case. A man so hell-bent on playing beautiful football and having a worldwide brand does not care about club image? There are no voices defending Mikel; who has been nothing but a quiet, consummate professional throughout his career.

The FA and many organizations in England and involved with UEFA are for eradicating racism from the game but where are these voices defending Mikel during this time? Why are people calling for Chelsea's head if the complaint cannot be proven to be true? The media coverage of this case is filled with vitriol towards Chelsea's audacity at lodging such a complaint against a referee.

All sides are currently innocent. Let this case flow through the proper channels and reserve our judgement until the story develops further. These are very serious accusations and they needed to be treated with objectivity.

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