FA's anger at 'ill-informed' lawyer Herbert

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The Independent Online

The Football Association has reacted furiously to the Society of Black Lawyers chairman Peter Herbert's claims that football's governing body is institutionally racist, by calling them "ill-informed and unhelpful".

Herbert made the claims while criticising the FA over its handling of the case of referee Mark Clattenburg's alleged racist comments to Chelsea's John Obi Mikel last month. He said the FA and Chelsea had a "cosy little agreement", while denouncing the club's failure to make a complaint to the police over the incident on 28 October, instead reporting the case directly to the governing body.

Bruce Buck, Chelsea's chairman, has confirmed that other players said they heard Clattenburg say the word "monkey" to Mikel but stressed it was the club that reported the incident to the FA, not the players.

Herbert himself made a complaint to the Metropolitan Police based on media reports of the alleged incident but the case was dropped on Tuesday through lack of evidence.

The FA chairman, David Bernstein, dismissed Herbert's accusations and he has been backed by Clarke Carlisle, the chairman of the Professional Footballers' Association. "These ill-informed and unhelpful remarks are at odds with the progressive and responsible approach being followed by the game with the support of Government to deal with these serious issues," Bernstein said. "The FA will continue working to strengthen processes to eradicate all forms of discrimination in football."

The FA and Chelsea were at the centre of Herbert's criticisms, for failing to report the Clattenburg incident. "It would appear that there is a cosy little agreement between Chelsea and the FA not to report these matters to the Metropolitan Police but to have them dealt with solely by the FA," he said.

Carlisle believes Herbert was misguided in reporting the Clattenburg incident to police as a result of being a third party who was not at the game. He said: "I think it would have been better if it remained within the remit of Chelsea and the FA to put any subsequent case to the Met Police."

The FA is expected to announce the outcome of its investigation into Chelsea's complaint within 48 hours.