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Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012

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Man in the middle: Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel (right) talks to referee Mark Clattenburg during a game against Manchester United last month. AFP-JIJI

Chelsea addresses referee racism row as police drop inquiry

AP

LONDON — Chelsea went public for the first time Tuesday with detailed racial abuse allegations against a referee, insisting there was no misunderstanding and that its players heard Mark Clattenburg use the word "monkey" during a Premier League match.

Chairman Bruce Buck opted to end Chelsea's public silence on the claims despite an ongoing investigation by the English Football Association into the events during last month's match against Manchester United.

But Clattenburg is no longer being investigated by the police due to a lack of evidence. The probe was sparked by the Society of Black Lawyers complaining based on media reports, but neither Chelsea nor its players approached the Metropolitan Police.

"Enquires were made and no victims have come forward . . . without a victim and/or any evidence that any offense has been committed, the matter cannot currently be investigated," the force said in a statement.

European champion Chelsea has been criticized for lodging a complaint with the F.A. while still backing captain John Terry, who has just served a four-match ban for racially abusing an opponent.

But Buck said in an interview with the London Evening Standard that Chelsea had a duty to report the allegations after black midfielders John Obi Mikel and Ramires said they heard the offending word.

"Suppose we had tried to sweep this under the rug and said to the various players, 'Look, it's not a big deal and the press are going to be all over us, maybe you want to reconsider,' " Buck was quoted as saying in Tuesday's edition of the paper. "If that had leaked out, we would've really been crucified."

Buck is sure the allegations are not baseless, amid suggestions the players might have misheard Clattenburg, who is yet to publicly respond to the allegations.

"I spoke to the players involved, either because they were allegedly the recipient of that abuse or had heard it, three separate times," the American lawyer said. "I asked them if they could be mistaken. I asked them if they might have heard 'Mikel' instead of 'monkey.' I thought I had covered that base."

Chelsea's decision to complain to the F.A. was taken without considering how it would be connected to Terry's ban for racially abusing Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand last year yet still retaining the captaincy.

"The press seem to juxtapose 'our support' of John Terry and what's going on here, and looking at us as being a bit hypocritical," Buck said. "We have to divorce the John Terry situation from this. From our perspective, the latest situation was pretty straightforward.

"We have an obligation to report what may be misconduct. We did that, in good faith and not maliciously."

Solo's fiance arrested

AP

SEATTLE — Former Seahawks tight end Jerramy Stevens was arrested on suspicion of assaulting U.S. women's soccer team goalkeeper Hope Solo a day before their planned wedding day, according to police and court records.

A Kirkland Municipal Court judge released Stevens after a court appearance Tuesday, saying there was no evidence connecting Stevens to any assault, according to news reports. He was arrested early Monday for fourth-degree domestic violence assault but has not been charged.

The judge determined there was not enough to hold Stevens, but the case is still under investigation, Kirkland Police Lt. Mike Murray said Tuesday. Charges could be brought later if prosecutors and police find other evidence, he said.

Solo appeared in the courtroom Tuesday afternoon, but left without saying anything to reporters, according to KING-TV.



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