Soccer: The English FA is investigating allegations of racial abuse by Mark Clattenburg during yesterday's 3-2 win for Manchester United against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, while it has been confirmed the referee will not take charge of a Premier League match later this week.
Chelsea lodged a formal complaint after the game, claiming misconduct by the official. It is alleged midfielders Mikel John Obi and Juan Mata interpreted comments made to them by Clattenburg as racist.
"The FA has begun an investigation relating to allegations made following Sunday's fixture at Stamford Bridge between Chelsea and Manchester United (Sunday 28 October 2012)," said a statement this afternoon. "The FA will make no further comment at this time."
Clattenburg has promised to co-operate with any investigation into the events.
The 37-year-old from Gosforth has been given the full backing of referees' union Prospect, who said in a statement: "Prospect is committed to helping to eradicate racism in football and in society generally. In the context of that commitment, Prospect is offering full support to Mark Clattenburg in relation to the allegations made against him.
"It is now important that the allegations are fully investigated through the proper process as quickly as possible. We will be making no further comment at this stage."
Chelsea, United and anti-racism group Kick It Out all refused to comment on the unfolding story this morning. However, the Blues did confirm they had decided against holding a press conference tomorrow to preview Wednesday night's Capital One Cup clash with the same opponents.
It was unclear today whether Mikel or Mata planned to report the matter to the police.
Metropolitan Police commissioner Bernard Hogan Howe said the force had not yet received a complaint about the alleged comments.
"If we hear of any report, we will look into it," he told reporters.
Clattenburg stood by his controversial decision to show Fernando Torres a second yellow card for diving last night, according to former referee Dermot Gallagher, who claimed to have spoken to the referee after the game.
Replays clearly showed Torres had been fouled by Jonny Evans and the sending-off reduced Chelsea to nine men, allowing United to score a winner which itself should have been disallowed for offside.
Another former referee, Jeff Winter, thinks Clattenburg will not officiate a match again if the allegations are proven.
"If a match official has used racial insults or language to a player then he's for the high jump," Winter told Radio 5 Live . "He won't be getting a four-match or an eight-match ban, it'll probably be the end of his career, but that is if indeed he did say anything."
He added: "I feel it very unlikely that Mark Clattenburg would be allowed to referee until it's dealt with so we certainly don't want this going on for weeks and months."
Winter admitted that he found it ironic that this time it was a referee that has been accused of using inappropriate language given that officials are subjected to abuse from players and fans at almost every match.
"Initially it is insulting words and I must admit I smiled at that because we watch football matches every week of the year hearing players use insulting words to referees and then somebody takes umbrage when somebody allegedly says something back. But I just hope this can be cleared. It's slightly ironic that players dish it out left right and centre and then, if and there is a massive if, if something has been said back - and we're not talking about racial here, we're talking about like for like - then I don't think anybody's got a right to complain.
"I'm not saying referees should do it, but there seems to be one law for one set of people and one law for another, but this inference that racial language has been used is very, very serious."