Football

Mark Clattenburg surprisingly quit officiating in the Premier League on Thursday.

Ex referee claims 2012 incident played a part in Mark Clattenburg quitting the Premier League

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The Premier League lost arguably its top referee in Mark Clattenburg to the Saudi Arabian Football Federation on Thursday and his swift departure shocked many.

Clattenburg not only boasted vast experience of officiating in England's top flight - overseeing 393 Premier League matches - but was also in charge of the Euro 2016, Champions League and FA Cup finals in 2016.

However, the 41-year-old's move to the middle east was not solely down to the financial rewards on offer, but a number of circumstances regarding Professional Game Match Officials Limited and incidents for which he felt he didn't receive adequate support.

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The Durham-born referee dished out 1,301 yellow cards and 56 reds during his 12-and-a-half years refereeing in the Premier League, but some feel his final match - Arsenal v Hull - should have seen him make that his 57th sending off after Kieran Gibbs appeared to foul the last man.

But despite Clattenburg appearing to get that decision wrong, and apologising to Hull's players in the tunnel at half-time for allowing Alexis Sanchez's handball to stand, former referees' chief Keith Hackett doesn't believe the incident prompted a premature exit.

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It has been known for some time amongst fellow officials that it was a matter of when, not if, Clattenburg called time on refereeing in the Premier League. But Hackett believes one incident back in 2012 played a big part in the 41-year-old's decision to quit.

Clattenburg cleared of racial abuse

Clattenburg was cleared by an FA investigation of any wrongdoing after being accused of using racist language towards Juan Mata and John Obi Mikel during their 3-2 home defeat to Manchester United in the Premier League back in the 2012/13 campaign.

Chelsea v Manchester United - Premier League

He was reported to have called Mata a "Spanish t*** and Mikel a "monkey".

But despite the referee not being found guilty of the incident, he feels PGMOL failed to support him in the aftermath of the incident.

"It's bad news for English refereeing. The Premier League has lost the world's best ref - it's a massive blow," said Hackett, per the Daily Star.

"I think it's down to poor management. There were incidents when the PGMOL haven't supported or clarified decisions when they've needed to.

"Mark felt after the Mata incident no-one supported him. He was left high and dry."

PGMOL under fire

Clattenburg has been left unimpressed by the governing body's management, the quality of coaching and lack of support for referees.

Stoke City v Burnley - Premier League

And the former Premier League referee will not take charge of an FA Cup tie this weekend, after his services were snubbed, which is another incident that upset Clattenburg.

Since making his officiating debut in Crystal Palace's Premier League home game against Everton, Clattenburg went on to make himself one of the most trusted and respected referees not only in England but around the world.

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