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 have 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, the Chelsea chairman, has confirmed that other players said they had heard Clattenburg use the word "monkey" directed at Mikel, but stressed that 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.
Bernstein said: "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. 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. But Herbert also criticised the governing body for failing to act over what he believes are anti-Semitic chants from Tottenham Hotspur fans and for not having a system in place to train players and coaches how to report racism.
Herbert said: "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.
"The FA has a dreadful record of indifference on hate crime generally; failing to challenge anti-Semitism at Tottenham and at other grounds; eventually finding John Terry made a racist remark but remarkably found him not to be a 'racist'; while the derisory penalty of a four- or eight-match ban [for Luis Suarez] is believed to be a suitable punishment for what in any other industry would be summary dismissal for gross misconduct."
Herbert added: "Institutionally racist? Of course it is. They don't even implement what the Stephen Lawrence inquiry [MacPherson Report] recommendations were about how to report a racial incident, whether the victim or any other person believes it is. You will not find that on the FA website or any of the training given to referees, managers, coaches or players. It isn't there. It should be."
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. It is an allegation they are currently investigating themselves.
"If we reported all incidents from third-party evidence, there would be many investigations the police would have to go through. We have to have faith Chelsea have reported the incidents in good faith and that the FA will deal with it accordingly, and report it to the police if necessary."
The FA is expected to announce the outcome of its investigation into Chelsea's complaint within 48 hours.