LONDON – Two Chelsea players say they heard race-row referee Mark Clattenburg call Blues’ star John Obi Mikel a “monkey”.
It is understood the pair made the claim to team-mates in the dressing room after Sunday’s explosive clash with Manchester United.
Clattenburg vehemently denies making any racist jibe and is confident he will be cleared by match officials, who heard his every word through a microphone headset.
A source said last night: “He said nothing of the sort – and he will fight this all the way.”
Clattenburg, 37, is also accused of calling Chelsea midfielder Juan Mata a “Spanish t***” during the West London side’s 3-2 defeat.
The referee denied making racist comments – and believes his innocence will be proved by the linesmen and fourth match official.
A source said: “There’s always a lot of noise on the pitch and the players could easily have misheard.”
Clattenburg now faces a police investigation as well as FA inquiry. He has the full backing of fellow referees amid claims that bitter Chelsea stars “ganged up” on him.
He is understood to have told the FA that Mikel hurled expletive-laden threats in the referees’ room after the loss to Manchester United.
Clattenburg has reportedly filed an “extraordinary incident report”.
In it, he is believed to have listed an explosive time-line of events that took place during a confrontation in his designated area that sources claim descended into scenes resembling “a pub brawl”.
It is understood the scenes in Clattenburg’s dressing room area took place almost two hours before allegedly making the racial remarks to Mikel and Juan Mata on the field of play.
Yet while Clattenburg found himself at the centre of the unprecedented accusations, the latest shocking claims could lead to problems for the European champions.
They would come in addition to the hot water in which they find themselves following the behaviour of supporters who aimed coins and a seat at celebrating United players on Sunday.
Clattenburg and his assistants – Simon Long and Michael McDonough – were confronted in the officials’ dressing room by a Chelsea delegation that consisted of chief executive Ron Gourlay, manager Roberto Di Matteo, his assistant Eddie Newton and Mikel.
They had gone into the referee’s room demanding a reponse from Clattenburg after making the claim that the official had insulted two of their players.
Matters quickly became heated, with Mikel seen and heard screaming in the direction of Clattenburg.
Banging and shouting could be heard coming from the referee’s dressing room.