The boot on the other foot.

Manchester United beat Chelsea 2-1 at Old Trafford today, putting the reds firmly back in the title race with just two games to go. If the semi-finals go in their favour, these two clubs could also be meeting in the Champions League final in Moscow, which is now less than a month away.

Initial reports suggest there had been some bust up after the match. Several Chelsea players, including John Terry, Frank Lampard and Michael Ballack, were at the scene, when usually mild-mannered Florent Malouda tore in to one of the United groundstaff.

The problem arose after the groundstaff oddly came on to the pitch to mow the lawn after the game had finished, with one groundstaff member in particular, Ben Sethell, make comments to Malouda.

Assistant manager, Steve Clarke, club captain, John Terry, as well as Michael Ballack and youngster Franco Di Santo, all claim that a racist slur has been used.

Manchester United confessed Sethell did verbally abuse Malouda, but strongly deny any accusations of racism. The club claim Sethell called Malouda a “fucking idiot”, whilst Clarke, Terry, Ballack and Di Santo all insist they heard “fucking immigrant”.

Are these well respected Chelsea members all falsely making an accusation of racism? What purpose would this serve? Malouda will be charged by the FA for the fracas whether a racist slur was used or not, so surely a group of Chelsea representative, assistant manager and club captain included, would not lie, especially about something so serious?

The alternative is that these four men all misheard what Sethell said, which again, is entirely unlikely, particularly when you consider that the words ‘idiot’ and ‘immigrant’ do not sound alike.

The FA have a difficult job on their hands now, as without audio recordings of this incident, they are going to have to take people’s word, on sworn oath, as the truth. Do they believe one member of the United groundstaff, who has every reason to lie and claim he wasn’t racist, or do they believe the four members of Chelsea FC, who have no reason to lie? The answer seems fairly obvious.

Whatever the result, let’s hope the FA handle this enquiry appropriately, so the ‘Kick Racism Out of Football’ message is heard loud and clear.

Whatever the club and whoever the player involved, if the assistant manager (e.g. Mike Phelan), captain (e.g. Gary Neville), as well as other members of the team (e.g. Carlos Tevez and Gerard Pique) all claim that a member of groundstaff said something racist, that claim should stand. Four men can’t all mishear the same word in the exact same way, so essentially, the FA are saying those four men are liars. Those four men fabricated a story to claim someone was racist when they weren’t.

I for one cannot get my head around the idea that Chelsea fans are calling Evra all the names under the sun, also calling him a liar. What is Bethell to them? I’d totally understand their fans supporting the case if it was Lampard who had allegedly made the racist remarks, but why on earth would they take the word of some Millwall-supporting thug over the likes of Phelan and Tevez?

If John Terry, amongst his team mates, claimed a racist attack occurred, would the FA call him a liar? If Steven Gerrard, amongst his team mates, claimed the same, would the FA call him a liar?

There is no audio recording of this incident, meaning the FA have taken Sam Bethell’s word over Phelan, Neville, Tevez and Pique. The FA are saying Phelan, Neville, Tevez and Pique all decided to get together and construct a story to accuse someone of being racist.


Read this Chelsea fan’s take on the Evra incident.