Premier League

Referees' union backs Clattenburg

Referee Mark Clattenburg speaks to Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel.
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The referees' union has pledged its "full support" to Mark Clattenburg after Chelsea accused him of using "inappropriate language" towards John Obi Mikel and Juan Mata.

Clattenburg is waiting to hear whether the Football Association will launch an investigation into allegations he made comments towards Mikel and Mata, which are understood to have been interpreted as racist, during the Blues' Barclays Premier League defeat to Manchester United Sunday.

The 37-year-old from Gosforth was given the full backing of Prospect, who said in a statement: "Prospect is committed to helping to eradicate racism in football and in society generally.

"In the context of that commitment, Prospect is offering full support to Mark Clattenburg in relation to the allegations made against him.

"It is now important that the allegations are fully investigated through the proper process as quickly as possible.

"We will be making no further comment at this stage."

Former Premier League referee Jeff Winter, who retired shortly before Clattenburg became a member of the top-flight Select Group, claimed the official's career was doomed if he was proven to have used racist language towards a player.

Luis Suarez and John Terry received respective eight- and four-match suspensions this year for racially abusing Patrice Evra and Anton Ferdinand.

But Winter, who refereed for over 25 years, felt Clattenburg would be forced from the game if found guilty.

"If a match official has used racial insults or language to a player then he's for the high jump,'' Winter told Radio 5 Live.

"He won't be getting a four-match or an eight-match ban, it'll probably be the end of his career, but that is if indeed he did say anything."

Clattenburg was unavailable for comment directly, but the body that represents referees, Professional Game Match Officials (PGMO), released a statement last night in which it said the referee has promised to co-operate with any investigation.

The Football Association were expected to receive today the match delegate's report which contain Chelsea's allegations.

Winter felt Clattenburg would be stood down in the meantime.

"I feel it very unlikely that Mark Clattenburg would be allowed to referee until it's dealt with so we certainly don't want this going on for weeks and months," Winter said.

Winter admitted he found it ironic a referee had been accused of using inappropriate language given officials were subjected to abuse from players and fans at almost every match.

He added: "Initially, it is insulting words and I must admit I smiled at that because we watch football matches every week of the year hearing players use insulting words to referees and then somebody takes umbrage when somebody allegedly says something back. But I just hope this can be cleared.

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"It's slightly ironic that players dish it out left right and centre and then if - and there is a massive if - something has been said back - and we're not talking about racial here, we're talking about like for like - then I don't think anybody's got a right to complain.

"I'm not saying referees should do it, but there seems to be one law for one set of people and one law for another, but this inference that racial language has been used is very, very serious."

Chelsea, United and anti-racism group Kick It Out all refused to comment on the unfolding story.

However, the Blues did confirm they had decided against holding a press conference Tuesday to preview Wednesday night's Capital One Cup clash with the same opponents.

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