Comments made by former Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg about Chelsea’s fiery 2-2 draw against Tottenham in May 2016 have provoked a response from Blues midfielder Cesc Fabregas on Twitter, among others.
Needing to win to keep their title hopes alive, Tottenham lost a 2-0 lead at Stamford Bridge as Clattenburg booked nine Spurs players, while Chelsea and Spurs received fines of £375,000 and £225,000 respectively from the Football Association.
But the 42-year-old said he went into the game with a plan to avoid negative headlines.
Clattenburg told NBC’s Men in Blazers podcast: “I allowed them (Spurs) to self-destruct so all the media, all the people in the world went: ‘Tottenham lost the title.’
“If I sent three players off from Tottenham, what are the headlines? ‘Clattenburg cost Tottenham the title.’ It was pure theatre that Tottenham self-destructed against Chelsea and Leicester won the title.”
Clattenburg, who left his job in the Premier League in February to become Saudi Arabia’s head of referees, added that he feared if he sent several Spurs players off, that would have been focused on as the reason the north London side lost the title race.
“I didn’t give them an excuse,” he said. “Because my game plan was: Let them lose the title.”
Chelsea’s Fabregas tweeted his reaction to the story in emoji form.
Many on social media took issue with the comments.
Clattenburg’s comments were also described as “damaging” and “disgraceful”.
Others ruminated on the potential ramifications of his refereeing.
Stoke City finished one place above Chelsea in the Premier League that season, and received a merit payment of over £1 million more than Chelsea as a result.
But not everybody seemed bothered by Clattenburg’s comments.
Was Clattenburg right to suggest teams look for excuses when things don’t go their way, or are his comments a worrying sign of how some games are officiated?