Clattenburggate brings all the boys to the yard

Laurence Griffiths

A round-up of the media's coverage of what's increasingly looking like a no-win situation for Chelsea. As the FA is expected to make a decision by the end of this week whether or not to charge referee Mark Clattenburg over allegations that he used "inappropriate language" towards John Obi Mikel, Chelsea have simultaneously been accused of covering up racism as well as maliciously accusing and slandering a Premier League referee.

I should mention at the top that you really don't need to read this post or linked articles at all. The Daily Mail "understands" that Clattenburg won't be charged anyway. So it's all done & dusted, right? The sad part is, there's a 50% chance that they've called that correctly.

You should be familiar with the all the basics of this affair by now, but if not, head on over to The Independent where Sam Wallace (whom we've linked before for actually bringing some common sense into this thing) gives a rundown of all the basics.

Muddling the whole thing, of course, is the campaign group Society of Black Lawyers whose public face is a certain Peter Herbert. A few months ago he was a virtual unknown to most of us, but having inserted himself into the Suarez, the Terry, and now the Clattenburg issues, he's quickly gained exposure and notoriety.

The BBC's Dan Roan attempts to find out more about Mr. Herbert, who is apparently "one of the leading human rights lawyers of his generation, one of a very small number of black judges, a veteran of 30 years' worth of campaigning against institutional racism, and for greater racial equality in the criminal justice system."

Others may claim he's simply enjoying the spotlight to further his own agenda (he does have a personal photo gallery on his website - he's a lawyer, mind, not a model) and the FA Chairman David Bernstein has called Herbert's actions "ill-informed and unhelpful."

Others coming to the defense of both Chelsea and the FA include the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA), whose Chairman, ex-QPR and Burnley player and Kick It Out Ambassador Clarke Carlisle urges everybody to "not be sensationalist about this" (ummm...too late?) and "to focus on the mechanisms that are in place so that incidents that occur are dealt with accordingly to everybody's satisfaction." He also adds that 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." Unfortunately and unsurprisingly, Carlisle's measured quotes are not getting all that much media exposure - having first ran across them on Goal.com, of all places, I eventually found them on The Independent as well although lumped together with Bernstein's response.

Of course, newspapers online and off are most concerned with selling papers and pageclicks - and we're going to play into their hands here for a minute - and what better way to do that than with over-the-top reactionary pieces. The louder, the better, right Dan Hodges?

And if they [Chelsea] are shown to have acted maliciously the club should face relegation and those responsible for perpetrating the false allegation the same sanction Clattenburg would have faced if Clattenburg had been found guilty.

-Dan Hodges in The Telegraph

The whole article is truly a spectacular clusterfuck of diarrheaous bile, attention-seeking, and general Chelsea hate. It must be seen to be appreciated. So buckle up, put on the full protective bodysuit, and give them a click.

Chelsea historian Rick Glanvill made the mistake of engaging this troll on Twitter and while he quickly realized the error of his ways, the ensuing conversation was a fun one. I tried to capture it with Twitter's conversation feature display thing although that didn't quite work as intuitively as I had envisioned. My favorite bit is definitely that Hodges should get relegated to a local newspaper for (also) making a charge without evidence.

In the end, it's all very confusing, frustrating, distracting, horrible, and I have a sinking feeling there will be plenty more mudslinging to come regardless of what the FA decide. Friend of the site and all-around good guy (also: journalist) Dan Levene tweeted "I suspect many ready to criticise Chelsea whatever action taken." Which is not surprising, really. After all, as Graham has concluded, Chelsea are clearly the worst club in the history of all mankind - a quote that was even picked up by at least one weekly magazine.

So, to cheer us all up, here's Graham* again, but this time with jellybeans (all the colors of the rainbow) and bubblegum pie for everyone!

* Flight of the Conchords

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