Ferguson: Clattenburg not a racist
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson refuses to believe referee Mark Clattenburg would have directed a racial insult at a player.
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Police and the Football Association are investigating an allegation that Clattenburg used "inappropriate language" towards John Obi Mikel in last weekend's stormy clash against United at Stamford Bridge. It is understood that the official strenuously denies any wrongdoing.
Chelsea have submitted a dossier of evidence to the FA containing accounts from players, who allege Clattenburg used a term which has been interpreted as racist, but Ferguson has defended the official.
Ferguson said: "I don't believe Mark Clattenburg would make any comments like that. I refuse to believe it.
"I think it is unthinkable in the modern climate. I just don't believe it - simple as that.
"There is no way a referee would stoop to that, I am convinced of that."
Ferguson has infamously had many run-ins with referees during his near 26-year reign at Old Trafford but he believes in the integrity of the officials.
He said: "I think in the modern game, the way we see the game today rather than how it was 25 years ago, it has completely changed.
"I played myself and I know the banter that went on between referees and players 25 years ago is different from today.
"I have never heard a player come to me in the last 15 years and say a referee has sworn at them during a game, ever.
"So, that is where I stand. I don't believe it."
Press Association Sport understands Clattenburg will receive the full backing of his fellow officials during any investigations.
Assistant referees Michael McDonough and Simon Long, and fourth official Michael Jones did not hear anything untoward said on their linked headsets and are expected to say as much in any testimony.