Chelsea have made a formal complaint about the language, reportedly racial, allegedly used by referee Mark Clattenburg to two of their players during the controversial 3-2 home defeat to Manchester United.
The dramatic development, which came after a stormy top of the table clash at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, will add fire to tomorrow evening, when the two sides meet again in London in the League Cup.
Sky Sports News claimed late on Sunday that one of the players involved was Chelsea’s Nigerian star John Obi Mikel.
It was reported by the Daily Telegraph yesterday that Mikel accused Clattenburg of directing a comment of a racial nature at him.
All four officials — the referee, his two assistants and the fourth official — wore microphones and earpieces that allowed them to hear what each other was saying throughout the match.
However, under FIFA guidelines, what is said between them is not recorded.
The complaint came after a highly-charged encounter in which Clattenburg dismissed two Chelsea players, before Javier Hernandez secured the points for United with a goal that Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo insisted should have been ruled out for offside.
Goals from Spaniard Juan Mata and Brazilian Ramires had earlier hauled Chelsea back in the game, after an own-goal from defender David Luiz and a Robin van Persie strike had put them 2-0 down early on.
Branislav Ivanovic and Fernando Torres were both sent off, but it was Clattenburg’s decision to issue Torres a second yellow card for diving after a challenge by Jonny Evans, that was the focus of much of Di Matteo’s frustration.
The Spanish international had been booked for an earlier challenge on Tom Cleverley before his 68th minute clash with Evans.
“He played the ball between his legs, then he gets kicked on his shin and goes down — it’s as simple as that,” Di Matteo said.
“It’s a free-kick for us and might even be a sending off for Evans as he [Torres] is through to the goal. I was shocked. I thought it was going to be a free-kick for us and a foul for us, not against us,” he said.
“And the decisive goal was an off-side goal. It’s a shame that [a] game like this has to be decided in that manner, by officials. I have spoken to the referee. Surely, when he’s going to watch the images, he’s going to realize that he made big mistakes,” Di Matteo said.
Having seen his side lose back-to-back games — Chelsea were beaten by Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League last week — Di Matteo will be anxious to recover quickly and avoid the risk of a repeat of the dip in form the club suffered at this stage of the two previous seasons.
“Today, we looked like a team that wanted to win this game and we were very strong out on the pitch to show that,” he said.