Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has launched a stunning attack on Chelsea about their claims of racism from referee Mark Clattenburg in their loss to Manchester United—telling the Blues to show their proof or remain silent about the matter.
Chelsea lodged an official complaint with the Premier League last weekend after they felt that Clattenburg had racially insulted one of their players and used inappropriate language with another—a matter that the referee was immediately stood down over pending review by the referees board (per ESPN Soccernet).
However, Wenger has criticized the European champions for making the allegations so public, especially when they are yet to show any proof for their claims.
One of the great things in sports as well is tolerance, forgiveness and explanation internally, and I think it should stay like that.
It can happen that a referee doesn't behave well—I do not say they are angels—but it is always better to sort it out in the room.
I didn't follow the whole [Chelsea] story completely [but] my opinion is just when I didn't behave well, I have an explanation with the referee at the end of the game or another day, rather than going public with little proof.
I'm not in favor of making these things public.
The Gunners boss conceded that whilst he was responsible for more than his fair share of disputes with referees, any disagreements that a team has with an official should be dealt with after the game and behind closed doors.
Which makes the whole Clattenburg scenario very interesting.
Without getting into a match of "who said what to whom", Wenger's comments about the need to keep this public (or show some proof) do carry some serious weight. The referee in question has been dragged through the press and stood down for this week's Premier League matches—all without the demonstration of any proof from Chelsea.
That's not to say that he is innocent or guilty one way or another, but it is to say that Chelsea need to produce their proof—publicly—if they are going to make such extraordinary allegations publicly, as they have done with Clattenburg.
Chelsea fans will be quick to point out that their players did reportedly go and see the referee after the match, which saw them have two players sent off and a game-winning goal to Javier Hernandez allowed despite the fact that the Mexican international was offside.
But that will count for very little, especially considering the reported comments and actions that the Blues players and management alike used when they saw Clattenburg after the game—threatening him both verbally and physically (per The Daily Mail).
Stories like this one were always bound to get out into the press one way or another, but like Wenger said, it shouldn't have come so publicly from Chelsea. And if they are going to bring it to the public's attention, they need to bring proof with it also.
As the head of the Professional Footballers' Association, Gordon Taylor, said in comments via ESPN Soccernet earlier this week:
We've got to learn the lessons of the last 12 months. This is extremely serious for the referee involved so that's why it's important that it is dealt with in the most thorough manner and as quickly, efficiently, and transparently as possible.
Perhaps Chelsea, the players and officials involved would all do well to heed Taylor's advice on the matter—especially as this doesn't seem to be going away any time soon.
Transparency is what's needed most here, from all involved.
And Arsene Wenger's right—Chelsea haven't shown that yet.
What do you make of the Mark Clattenburg racism claims from Chelsea?
Comment below or hit me up on Twitter: Follow @dantalintyre