Clattenburg looking forward to return after 'truly frightening' racism row

The referee accused of racially abusing Chelsea's Jon Obi Mikel has been cleared of any wrongdoing by the FA, and admits he feared for his career during the stressful recent weeks
Referee Mark Clattenburg has admitted that he feared for his career after being accused of racially abusing Chelsea's Jon Obi Mikel, but is now looking forward to returning to the field after being cleared by the FA.

"To know you were innocent of something but there was the opportunity for it to wreck your career was truly frightening," he said.

"We're proud of integrity of refereeing in this country. I can't wait to be back involved in game I care so passionately about.

"I am looking forward to putting this behind me and concentrating on refereeing in the Premier League and other competitions.

The man from County Durham also gave thanks to his refereeing colleagues, who were steadfast in their support in the aftermath of the accusations.

"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," he continued.

"The messages of encouragement from those inside and outside of the game have helped me through the most stressful time of my professional life."

Clattenburg stressed that although the charges against him turned out to be unsubstantiated, this should not discourage others from coming forward should they feel any discriminatory behaviour has taken place.

However, he did suggest that such matter should be dealt with professionally, so as to avoid public vilification before any proof has been put forward.

"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," he continued.

"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."