In the spotlight: John Obi Mikel leaves Chelsea training on Tuesday as the row hangs over the club
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 teammates 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 denies making racist comments — and believes his innocence will be proved by the linesmen and fourth match official. They will have heard every word he spoke during the game through the headset all referees wear.
A source said: “There’s always a lot of noise on the pitch and the players could easily have misheard”.
An inquiry was launched into the racism claims by the FA after Chelsea lodged an official complaint. Clattenburg will not be officiating at a match this weekend.
The FA had hoped to bring the row to a swift end after the John Terry racism row dragged on. But the scene was set for another lengthy wrangle yesterday after the Metropolitan Police announced it was also launching an inquiry.
They decided to act after the Society of Black Lawyers made an official complaint.