Have the FA redeemed themselves?

Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg

Last week referee Mark Clattenburg was cleared by the FA of directing ‘inappropriate language’ at Mikel John Obi at the game between Chelsea and Manchester United.

In fact, the FA did not file a charge at all against the referee. This is very different to what happened after John Terry was accused of racial abuse towards Anton Ferdinand, which resulted in a charge that Terry was found guilty of after his case was looked over by an independent disciplinary panel. While the Mark Clattenburg issue has been dealt with relatively quickly by the FA, a verdict was not made on Terry’s case until after he was found not guilty of the same charge in court, and the FA was criticised by many for its handling of the situation. Added to that, John Terry was banned from playing in four matches, while Luis Suarez who was found guilty of the same charge was banned for eight.

So, by making this decision over Mark Clattenburg, and charging Mikel John Obi instead for misconduct, have the FA gone some way to making amends for how they dealt with John Terry?

Well, many agree that the FA has come to the right decision on the Mark Clattenburg matter, and it has been praised for coming to a succinct conclusion in a professional manner.

It seems that the FA wanted to make it clear it was trying to act quickly, with all the important dates in the case being noted in its statement.

With the amount of time that it took to investigate the John Terry case, it could be said that the FA may have learnt a lesson.

It seems that reporters agree Chelsea’s claim was somewhat hysterical and hinged on flimsy evidence. Though it was stated in the complaint that the abuse Mark Clattenburg was accused of was aimed at Mikel John Obi, after statements that came from Chelsea players, it transpired that just Ramires talked of hearing the said remarks.

The FA has faced criticism, including how it has disappointed football fans in the past and has seemed to act like ‘an old boys’ club’.  However, it has been praised for showing better transparency, and it is likely many would agree this is extremely important. It seems that though the issue was handled quickly, thorough investigation took place.  The FA took statements from a selection of people including Mikel John Obi, Ramires, Ashley Cole and Mark Clattenburg, as well as from another three match officials, and were connected through a microphone system. The FA also looked at footage of the game that had not been broadcast. So it seems that the issue was investigated meticulously.

However, the FA has been criticised for not penalising Chelsea enough over the affair. It has been noted how while the FA had criticised the evidence Chelsea had prepared, it did not take considerable action against them, though they have charged John Obi Mikel.

Additionally, while many feel the FA has taken the right action over the issue, does it actually take away the mistakes made over John Terry? And also, if Mark Clattenburg had been charged, can we really be sure that it would not have taken a long time again to come to a verdict?

It seems that though the FA has still received some criticism over the handling of the Mark Clattenburg case, many agree the FA has dealt with it well. While it could be said that it does not take away what could be seen as mistakes that were made in the John Terry case, it seems that many are pleased with how this particular case has been handled.

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