Fans were treated to another pulsating episode of the world’s greatest soap opera over the weekend, as one of the English Premier League’s biggest fixtures got underway.
After the end of Sunday’s incredible game between Manchester United and Chelsea, virtual pitchforks across the globe were lit and fans bayed for the blood of the EPL’s latest villain: Mark Clattenburg.
Clattenburg is man that needs little introduction. He’s regarded as one of England’s best referees, and has taken charge of some massive fixtures, including last season’s Carling Cup final and the Men’s Final in this year’s Olympics. So how is it that a man so well respected by his peers is suddenly at risk of losing his job?
Well once again accusations of racism lie at the core of this saga, and the F.A is scrambling to contain another messy situation.
Chelsea lodged a complaint to the English F.A after their controversial defeat at the hands of United, stating that Clattenburg had used ‘inappropriate language’ towards John Obi Mikel and Juan Mata.
For an apparent blow-by-blow of the dialogue between Clattenburg and Mikel, read this article from the Daily Mail.
The timing couldn’t be worse for the F.A, who are looking to be seen as taking a strong stance in eradicating racism in football. In fact, certain members of the F.A have been calling for Serbia to be banned from international competitions after last month’s disgraceful scenes in the Euro U21 Playoffs.
In that particular game, black English players (specifically Danny Rose) were subject to monkey chants before, during and after the match. Despite the fact that amateur video footage shows large sections of the Serbian crowd chanting during the game, the Serbian F.A had the audacity to post a heavily edited video on to Youtube with the title: Danny Rose is lying to whom?
Feel free to compare the two videos below;
One needs to sift through the excessive vitriol spewed across the comment section to come across the question repeated most by Serbian fans: If you can’t deal with your own racial issues, who are you to judge us? Sadly, the extreme nationalists that make up a significant portion of Serbian football’s fan base have a point – The F.A’s dealings with this particular issue have been laughable in the past, and something needs to change.
Punishments for racial slander need to be ramped up, as the current penalties seem to have little impact. The current microphone system implemented by the F.A also needs an overhaul. The system allows the referee to communicate with their linesmen during the game, however the conversations are not recorded. This means the verdict in cases such as Clattenburg’s hang on the word of the assistants, rather than actual audio evidence.
If the audio is recorded and made available then racism, nay, verbal abuse in general would most likely be reduced greatly. There are many professional footballers are family men who would probably hate to have their filthy tirades towards officials aired for the public (and possibly their children) to hear.
The ruling of this particular case could shape how racism will be dealt with in the future, and hopefully discourages what has become a rather disturbing trend in football.