Two Chelsea players have reportedly told authorities they heard referee Mark Clattenburg tell John Obi-Mikel to ‘shut up you monkey’ during Manchester United’s 3-2 win at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
Clattenburg also stands accused of calling Juan Mata a “Spanish t**t’ during the fiery encounter which saw two Chelsea players sent off as they lost for the first time in the Premier League this season. The Metropolitan police have launched an investigation into the incident along with the FA.
The identity of the two players who allegedly heard Clattenberg use the racial slurs remains a mystery, although Chelsea midfielder Oriol Romeu confirmed yesterday that neither Mata or Fernando Torres heard the 'Spanish t**t' insult.
“He said nothing of the sort - and he will fight this all the way,” a source close to the referee told the Sun.
“There is a lot of noise on the pitch and the players could have easily misheard.'
The spotlight appears to be switching back to Chelsea after the referee filed an ‘extraordinary incident’ report along with his usual match report.
Mikel faces an FA charge if he is found guilty of reportedly having to be restrained from physically attacking Clattenburg after the game before Chelsea lodged their complaint against the 37-year-old.
Clattenburg made no mention of the incident in the referees room in his reports but after the game detailed the events that unfolded in a statement to the FA.
It has also emerged that Chelsea have hired independent lawyers to look into the claims made against Clattenburg - who has been stood down from officiating this weekend - and to assess whether their case will be successful or not.
The west London club have yet to formally complain and could back down if the independent lawyers find their case will not stand up to scrutiny.
The issue has split opinion, with Leeds boss Neil Warnock branding Chelsea 'disgusting' for accusing Clattenburg of being racist, while PFA chief Gordon Taylor offered his ‘100% backing’ to both Mikel and Mata.
Chelsea will play hosts to Manchester United once more this evening as the two sides go head to head in the Capital One Cup.