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

Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Sport
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
News
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
News
Image from a flyer at the CPAC event where Nigel Farage will be speaking
news
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

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower