The English FA has given Chelsea’s John Obi Mikel a three-game ban for confronting referee Mark Clattenburg after the infamous Premier League clash between Manchester United and Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on October 28. Mikel admitted to "using threatening and/or abusive and/or insulting words and/or behavior" toward the referee following the 3-2 defeat, but said he only confronted Clattenburg because he thought he had been racially abused by him (Clattenburg was later cleared of that charge by the FA). In addition to the ban, Mikel was also fined $96,000.
While the FA admitted that the punishment would have been “significantly longer” if Mikel hadn’t thought he’d been racially abused, the referee’s trade association believes the three-game ban is not sufficient for the crime. "It is vital that officials were given real respect and this decision regrettably gave entirely the wrong message,” a statement from Prospect, the referee trade union, said. “A player in park football found guilty of behavior like Mikel's would have faced a long-term ban."
Mikel now misses the away games at Sunderland and Leeds (in the Capital One Cup) and the home match against Aston Villa. The ban does not extend to Chelsea's FIFA Club World Cup campaign, which begins in Tokyo next week.