THE Football Association have decided referee Mark Clattenburg will not face disciplinary action over a complaint of an alleged racist comment directed towards Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel.
Mikel has now been charged by the Football Association for an alleged use of threatening and/or abusive and/or insulting words and/or behaviour in or around the match officials changing room following his side's game with Manchester United on October 28.
Mr Clattenburg spoke of his relief and said the last few weeks had been the most stressful of his life.
He said: "I am looking forward to putting this behind me and concentrating on refereeing in the Premier League and other competitions.
"I am extremely grateful for the invaluable support of my family, my Select Group colleagues, the management of Professional Game Match Officials Limited and our union Prospect.
"The messages of encouragement from those inside and outside of the game have helped me through the most stressful time of my professional life.
"To know you were innocent of something but that there was the opportunity for it to wreck your career was truly frightening.
"Racism has no place in football and this experience should not discourage those to speak out if they genuinely believe they are a victim of abuse.
"However, there are processes that should be adhered in order that any investigation can be carried out in a manner that is fair for all parties involved.
"I know first-hand the ramifications of allegations of this nature being placed into the public domain ahead of a formal process and investigation. I hope no referee has to go through this in the future."
The FA statement on Mr Clattenburg in full:
"Following the conclusion of the match, Chelsea FC reported to the match delegate that two of their players had been separately subject to abuse by the match referee, Mark Clattenburg.
"On Monday 29 October 2012, The FA contacted Chelsea FC to establish whether the club and individual players wished to make a formal complaint in relation to the allegations reported to the match delegate.
"On Wednesday 31 October Chelsea FC contacted The FA and confirmed that the club had conducted an internal enquiry and that they did wish to proceed with a formal complaint in relation to one of the allegations of abuse. The club did not wish to proceed in relation to the other allegation. The club provided witness statements from two players, Ramires Santos do Nascimento (“Ramires”) and John Obi Mikel.
"The details of the allegation were that following one or the other of the red cards issued during the second half of the game, Ramires heard Mark Clattenburg say to John Obi Mikel, “shut up you monkey”. John Obi Mikel did not hear the alleged comment.
"On 1 November 2012, The FA requested that Chelsea disclose full details of their internal investigation.
"On 5 November 2012, Chelsea FC provided The FA with witness statements from other Chelsea FC players and officials.
"On 5 November 2012, The FA interviewed Ramires and John Obi Mikel, using the TV match footage obtained by The FA.
"Between 7 and 8 November 2012, The FA interviewed all four match officials.
"On 9 and 14 November 2012, further to FA requests, Chelsea FC provided unbroadcast video footage of the game from static cameras.
"On 15 November 2012, The FA re-interviewed Ramires to show him the previously unseen video footage provided by the club. At this stage, for the first time, the exact point at which the comment was alleged to have been made was established.
"In light of this new information, between 15 and 19 November 2012, The FA interviewed the players who were in the vicinity of the alleged incident, and re-interviewed John Obi Mikel and the match officials.
"Chelsea FC was offered the opportunity to provide any further information or evidence that they believed could be relevant to the allegation.
"The FA then sought advice on the evidence gathered from independent Queen’s Counsel.
"The evidence for the allegation came from one witness, Ramires. Ramires, whose first language is not English, explained that his instinctive reaction was to seek confirmation from John Obi Mikel as to what the referee had said.
"John Obi Mikel, who was being spoken to by the referee, was much closer to the referee than Ramires and did not hear what it is suggested was said to him.
"Three other witnesses, i.e. the other Match Officials, to whom everything said by referee was relayed via their communication equipment, are adamant the alleged words were not uttered.
"There is nothing in the video footage to support the allegation.
"For completeness, but of lesser weight, two other players, whose first language is English and were in the vicinity, did not hear anything untoward.
"Having considered all of the available evidence it was the opinion of David Waters QC, independent counsel, that the evidence of Ramires was not supported by any other evidence. Moreover it was contradicted by other witnesses and does not cross the evidential threshold required to bring a charge against Mark Clattenburg.
"Having considered Counsel’s opinion, and in view of all the circumstances of the case, The FA does not believe that there is a case for Mr Clattenburg to answer.
"Equally The FA is satisfied that the allegation against Mark Clattenburg by Ramires was made in good faith. It is entirely possible for a witness to be genuinely mistaken and convincing in his belief.
"The FA receives and investigates numerous allegations of misconduct over the course of a season. All allegations are properly investigated. It is not uncommon for investigations to lead to no disciplinary charge being brought.
"The FA encourages all players who believe they have been either subject, or witness to, discriminatory abuse to report the matter immediately to the match officials on the day.
"Furthermore, all participants are advised to report any such alleged misconduct to The FA. In this case, the player and club were correct in reporting the matter to The FA and it was appropriate and proper for such an allegation to be thoroughly investigated."