Former Premier League referee, Mark Clattenburg, has revealed that he almost quit officiating after he was accused of racially abusing Mikel Obi in 2012.
Clattenburg, 43, left the Premier League in 2017 to become Head of Refereeing for the Saudi Arabian Football Federation.
He spent 13 years as a top-flight official and also took charge of the Euro 2016 final and Champions League final in the same year.
In 2012, he was accused of racially abusing Mikel during Manchester United’s 3-2 win at Stamford Bridge in 2012.
“I had sent off two Chelsea players and there was an offside goal late on as well, so it was pretty heated coming off,” Clattenburg told Daily Mail.
“Mikel came into my dressing room and certain things happened which I’ll leave in there. But then Ramires made the allegation that I’d called Mikel a monkey on the pitch.
“The first few days I was soul-searching — you know you’re innocent yet you’re made to feel otherwise. It took four weeks for Chelsea to reveal the moment it had allegedly happened, and after that, it was very quickly dismissed.
“But Bruce Buck (the Chelsea chairman) didn’t understand that referees are normal people living in a normal house. He thought we lived in a gated community with security and wandered into work every day carrying a washbag.
“The media were camped outside my house for days on end. It made world news. That is hard to deal with, I tell you. I knew it wasn’t true, but I could not speak. Me and my family went through hell — I even thought about quitting.”
Even now, a sour taste lingers.
“If Mikel had come out and apologised, OK, be a man about it,” he said. “But I haven’t got respect for someone who makes a mistake on someone else’s allegation and can’t then say sorry.”