Clattenburg won't face action
Referee Mark Clattenburg has spoken of the "truly frightening" fear that his career could have been wrecked by an unjust accusation that he had racially abused a Chelsea player.
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The match official also implicitly criticised Chelsea for going public with the complaint before the Football Association had even launched a formal investigation.
Clattenburg, 37, found out on Thursday he will face no action from the FA over a complaint by Chelsea that he said "shut up you monkey" to their midfielder John Obi Mikel last month.
The FA decided there was "no case to answer" and Chelsea have accepted the decision, but the Blues issued no apology and pointed out that the FA accepted the complaint by Mikel's team-mate Ramires, though erroneous, was "made in good faith".
Clattenburg spoke of his relief and said the last few weeks, during which he has taken no part in refereeing matches, had been "the most stressful of his life".
He said: "To know you were innocent of something but that there was the opportunity for it to wreck your career was truly frightening.
"Racism has no place in football and this experience should not discourage those to speak out if they genuinely believe they are a victim of abuse.
"However, there are processes that should be adhered to in order that any investigation can be carried out in a manner that is fair for all parties involved.
"I know first-hand the ramifications of allegations of this nature being placed into the public domain ahead of a formal process and investigation. I hope no referee has to go through this in the future.
"I am looking forward to putting this behind me and concentrating on refereeing in the Premier League and other competitions."
Clattenburg also paid tribute to the support from his colleagues and family and the referees' trade union Prospect, who have called for Chelsea to apologise and compensate the official.
He added: "The messages of encouragement from those inside and outside of the game have helped me through the most stressful time of my professional life."
Mikel was himself charged by the FA on Thursday for using threatening words or behaviour - an alleged breach of FA Rule E3 - after going into the referees' changing room after the match in question, Chelsea's 3-2 defeat by Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on October 28.
Chelsea insisted that they had a duty to report the claim against Clattenburg, but that Mikel would not deny the charge against him.
A club statement read: "The FA states Chelsea took the correct action following the Manchester United match and encourages all players who believe they have been either subject, or witness to discriminatory abuse, to report the matter immediately to the match officials on the day, and in turn to the FA.
"The club also notes the charge brought against John Mikel Obi. While the player does not deny the charge, he will request a personal hearing to explain the mitigating circumstances.
"With regards to the Mark Clattenburg decision, the club accepts the case is now concluded and notes the FA states the allegation was made in good faith."
The FA's decision came after all the evidence was considered by independent QC David Waters, who ruled Ramires' claim was not supported by any other evidence and disputed by the other match officials.
An FA statement added: "Moreover it was contradicted by other witnesses and does not cross the evidential threshold required to bring a charge against Mark Clattenburg.
"Having considered Counsel's opinion, and in view of all the circumstances of the case, the FA does not believe that there is a case for Mr Clattenburg to answer."
The episode has caused the Premier League to seek to record all match officials' conversations during games in the future.
Referees chief Mike Riley, general manager of Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL), said: "It is PGMOL's considered view that Mark is completely exonerated of the allegation and he will return to active duty shortly without any stain on his character or reputation.
"The verbal and visual facts do not support any of the allegations made against him. They make it clear that Mark did not use any inappropriate language towards any Chelsea player.
"Regrettably, Mark has had to endure four weeks that have brought massive disruption to his professional and personal life through no fault of his own. We are all relieved that this is now behind him and that he can return to doing something that he loves.
"To reduce the risk of an episode of this nature being repeated, PGMOL will introduce recording of the referees' communication system on a private basis."
The FA's decision came an hour before Chelsea's new interim manager Rafael Benitez gave his first press conference at the club, with the former Liverpool boss insisting he had "just arrived and I want to concentrate on football issues".
Mark Clattenburg factfile:
1975: Born March 13 in Consett, County Durham.
2000: August - Takes charge of his first Football League match between Chesterfield and York aged just 25.
2004: Promoted to the Premier League's Select Group and referees his first top-flight game between Crystal Palace and Everton.
2005: January - Fails, along with his assistants, to spot Tottenham midfielder Pedro Mendes' shot had been fumbled over the line by Manchester United goalkeeper Roy Carroll in a match at Old Trafford.
2006: Becomes a FIFA referee.
2007: October - Sends off Everton's Tony Hibbert in a Merseyside derby after initially appearing to be about to show him a yellow card, only to change his mind and pull out a red after a brief exchange with Steven Gerrard. He later did not send off Dirk Kuyt for a two-footed lunge at Phil Neville. Clattenburg did not referee another Everton match until 2012.
2008: August 6 - Suspended pending a probe into his business affairs following allegations he owed £60,000 as a result of a failed venture. Pulled out of the FA Community Shield clash between Manchester United and Portsmouth as a result and later sacked by the Professional Game Match Officials board.
2009: February - Reinstated as a Select Group Referee on appeal, but suspended for eight months from August 6, 2008, for "issues relating to his private business affairs".
2010: October - Correctly, if controversially, allows a goal to stand between Manchester United and Tottenham when Nani tapped the ball in after Spurs goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes put the ball down, believing his side had a free-kick. Clattenburg had not blown his whistle.
2012: February - Referees the League Cup final between Liverpool and Cardiff.
August - Takes charge of the Olympic men's football final between Brazil and Mexico at Wembley.
October 28 - Accused of using "inappropriate language" toward two Chelsea players during their defeat to Manchester United in a formal complaint by the club to the Premier League.
October 29 - The Football Association open an investigation into the allegations made by Chelsea.
October 30 - The Metropolitan Police launch an investigation into the incidents at Stamford Bridge.
October 31 - Chelsea issue a formal complaint against Clattenburg.
November 5 - The referees group PGMOL says Clattenburg will not referee a match the following weekend, but that they had been willing to appoint him to a match if he had wanted.
November 12 - Clattenburg is missing from the referees' list for a third successive week, but he does return to training.
November 13 - The police investigation into alleged comments made by Clattenburg is dropped due to a lack of evidence, Scotland Yard say.
November 22 - The FA decide Clattenburg will not face disciplinary action over a complaint of an alleged racist comment directed toward John Obi Mikel.