Referee Mark Clattenburg is “angry and confused” following allegations that he racially abused two Chelsea players in their loss to Manchester United on Sunday.
Former referee Graham Poll revealed the feelings of his fellow official in an interview on talkSPORT and claimed Clattenburg is set to protest his innocence.
The allegations are that the 37-year-old called John Obi Mikel a “monkey” and Juan Mata a “Spanish twat” on a heated evening at Stamford Bridge.
“I know he’s feeling angry because he doesn’t feel he’s done anything wrong – he’s angry and confused,” said Poll.
“He’s angry because he’s being accused of something he doesn’t feel he did, and confused because, in his mind, he’s done nothing wrong and yet ended up as the victim.
“That's the bit you look at and go 'why?' You think, 'what's going on?' And there's this media circus.”
Sir Alex Ferguson’s side ran out 3-2 winners in the end, but they had already squandered a two-goal lead and were looking in trouble until Clattenburg intervened.
Firstly, he sent off Branislav Ivanovic for a professional foul on Ashley Young, which there has been little dispute over, then he decided to show a second yellow to Fernando Torres for diving – it is this decision that has caused a media storm.
Replays suggested there was contact between United defender Jonny Evans and the Chelsea striker, though there has been debate over whether it was enough to bring Torres down.
Chelsea have since made a formal complaint to the FA over what they have called “inappropriate language” by the referee towards two of their players – it was confirmed later that the nature of the language was allegedly racial.