The referees trade union, Prospect, has expressed disatisfaction at what it called the “leniency” of a three-game ban handed to John Mikel Obi after he confronted Mark Clattenburg following Chelsea’s explosive Barclays Premier League encounter with Manchester United in October.
A Football Association independent regulatory commission handed down Mikel’s ban on Thursday, which included a £60,000 fine, after the Chelsea midfielder admitted the charge.
In a statement, the FA acknowledged that if not for the fact Mikel had believed he had been racially abused by Clattenburg, the sanction would have been “significantly longer”.
A strongly-worded statement from Prospect on Thursday night, however, criticised the length of Mikel’s ban, which rules him out of domestic duty until Boxing Day.
“Prospect, the referees trade union, today (Thursday) expressed dismay at the lenient punishment handed down by the FA Regulatory Commission to Chelsea player John Obi Mikel, ” the statement read.
“It is vital that officials were given real respect and this decision regrettably gave entirely the wrong message. A player in parks football found guilty of behaviour like Mikel’s would have faced a long-term ban.”
National secretary Alan Leighton claimed Mikel’s behaviour deserved a heavier sanction despite the mitigating circumstances.
“For entering the referees’ dressing room and threatening and intimidating the referee to the extent that he feared for his safety the penalty was no longer than had the player being sent off for serious foul play.
“This did absolutely nothing to further the Respect campaign, ” Leighton said.
Leighton added that “far too much weight had been given to the mitigating factor and that Mikel’s behaviour merited a strong deterrent penalty.”