Referees union expresses dismay at 'leniency' of John Obi Mikel's punishment

Chelsea midfielder confronted referee Mark Clattenburg

The referees trade union, Prospect, last night revealed its dismay at the “leniency” of a three-game ban handed to John Obi Mikel after he confronted Mark Clattenburg following Chelsea's stormy Barclays Premier League clash with Manchester United in October.

A Football Association independent regulatory commission yesterday handed down Mikel's ban, which included a £60,000 fine, after the Chelsea midfielder admitted the charge.

In a statement the FA revealed the sanction would have been "significantly longer" but for the fact Mikel had believed he had been racially abused by Clattenburg.

A strongly-worded statement from Prospect last night criticised the length of Mikel's ban, which rules him out of domestic duty until Boxing Day.

"Prospect, the referees trade union, today expressed dismay at the lenient punishment handed down by the FA Regulatory Commission to Chelsea player John Obi Mikel," the statement read.

"It is vital that officials were given real respect and this decision regrettably gave entirely the wrong message. A player in parks football found guilty of behaviour like Mikel's would have faced a long-term ban."

National secretary Alan Leighton claimed Mikel's behaviour deserved a heavier sanction despite the mitigating circumstances.

"For entering the referees dressing room and threatening and intimidating the referee to the extent that he feared for his safety the penalty was no longer than had the player been sent off for serious foul play," Leighton said.

"This did absolutely nothing to further the Respect campaign."

Leighton added that "far too much weight had been given to the mitigating factor and that Mikel's behaviour merited a strong deterrent penalty".

The FA announced Mikel's charge last month in a statement that also confirmed they would take no action against Clattenburg following a complaint by Chelsea that he used a racist remark to their players.

The FA decided there was "no case to answer" over the allegation the referee said "shut up you monkey" to Mikel.

Following yesterday's hearing, which Mikel had requested, the FA's regulatory committee revealed those factors had played a key part in the length of the ban.

"The breach of FA Rule E3 was in relation to an incident which occurred in the match official's changing room at the end of Chelsea's fixture against Manchester United on 28 October 2012," the FA statement read.

"The Regulatory Commission's independent chairman Christopher Quinlan QC emphasised that the Independent Regulatory Commission accepted, as did The FA, that at the time he threatened the referee the player genuinely believed that the referee had racially abused him.

"But for that factor the suspension would have been significantly longer."

Mikel, who signed a new five-year deal on Wednesday, will therefore miss the weekend's trip to Sunderland but will be available when Chelsea jet out for the Club World Cup in Japan next week.

His availability when the Blues return from the Far East could be limited though, with the midfielder due to meet up with Nigeria early in the new year for the African Nations Cup.

That tournament begins on January 19, with the players set to convene in the weeks beforehand, and Mikel would be unavailable until February 10 should Nigeria reach the final.

New boss Rafael Benitez appeared to begin preparations for his absence on Wednesday night when he employed David Luiz in midfield at stages of the 6-1 Champions League win over FC Nordsjaelland.

Benitez admitted after the match he was prepared to use Luiz further up the pitch and provide support for holding midfielders Ramires and Oriol Romeu, who both started Wednesday night's game.

PA

Arts and Entertainment
Joe Cocker performing on the Stravinski hall stage during the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland in 2002
musicHe 'turned my song into an anthem', says former Beatle
News
Clarke Carlisle
sport
Sport
footballStoke City vs Chelsea match report
Arts and Entertainment
David Hasselhof in Peter Pan
theatreThe US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
News
Coca-Cola has become one of the largest companies in the world to push staff towards switching off their voicemails, in a move intended to streamline operations and boost productivity
peopleCoca-Cola staff urged to switch it off to boost productivity
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'