Skip to content

Lesson from John Obi Mikel’s suspension: Do your complaining on the field

Dec 6, 2012, 6:58 PM EDT

BRITAIN-POLICE-PROBE-RACISM-FBL-ENG-PR-CLATTENBURG-FILES Getty Images

The English FA came down on John Obi-Mikel today: three games, £60,000 fine for following Mark Clattenburg to the referee’s dressing room to berate the official after Manchester United’s visit to Old Trafford. Recall there was confusion on Chelsea’s side as to possible abusive language from Clattenburg. Per the narrative, Mikel pursued the match’s lead official post-game in response to the alleged abuse. (Clattenburg was later cleared by The FA and received an apology from Chelsea.)

There is no conceivable reason to pursue an official back the their dressing room. If you’ve been verbally abused, let the guy walk away and file a complaint. If you’re physically threatened, even more reason to let the guy walk away.

Anytime a player follows an official from the field, it should be an automatic suspension. There is no way to engage in such action without posing a physical threat. Suffice to say, game officials should be protected, and in that light, a three-game suspension for this type of threat is probably not enough.

Mikel’s actions unfortunately fit into a long line of referee abuse Chelsea’s engaged in since the José Mourinho days. Then, the former-Porto boss instilled the type of us-against-them attitude which, although trite, combined with a certain swagger (arrogance) and the squad’s personalities to bring in a new era of Premier League descent.

Players have always complained and rushed officials, but thanks to the likes of John Terry, Didier Drogba, and (the worst offender) Michael Ballack, Chelsea took the practice to new, embarrassing levels. It’s not coincidence the league’s weak Respect campaign came during this time.

Though Mourinho’s long gone and Premier League referees no longer have to worry about being forced into the face-to-face conversation with Ballack, seeds of Chelsea’s old attitude still remains. Hence the kerfuffle over Clattenburg. Hence Mikel’s actions.

Of course, when Chelsea do their complaining on the field, there are rarely repercussions (unless you’re Didier Drogba and scream into a camera). But those in-game actions aren’t much different than those that got Mikel suspended: unreasonable pursuit; (perhaps unintentional) physical intimidation; general behavior that should be dissuaded.

Our lesson here: If you’re going to be unreasonable, but unreasonable within a big green rectangle.

Latest Posts
  1. EXCLUSIVE: Fresh off his club debut, young Emerson Hyndman takes his USMNT chance in stride

    Sep 2, 2014, 1:45 PM EDT

    Hyndman2 Getty Images

    At just 18 years old, Emerson Hyndman has come through the Fulham youth ranks and is turning heads at all levels. He speaks to ProSoccerTalk about the chances coming all at once.

  2. Spanish defender Cesar Azpilicueta signs new five-year deal at Chelsea

    Sep 2, 2014, 1:01 PM EDT

    Chelsea Training Session and Press Conference Getty Images

    Blues sign full back to new long-term deal at Stamford Bridge.

  3. PHOTO: San Antonio reveal stunning stadium expansion plans, aim for MLS entry

    Sep 2, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    Source: San Antonio Scorpions Source: San Antonio Scorpions

    Scorpions reveal stunning stadium plans, as the latest lower-league side plans for MLS expansion.

  4. Confirmed: Tom Cleverley signs for Aston Villa on season-long loan

    Sep 2, 2014, 11:29 AM EDT

    Chelsea v Manchester United - Premier League Getty Images

    Cleverley arrives at Villa Park after late, late loan move on Deadline Day.

  5. From Prague, with love: Klinsmann previews USA’s friendly vs. Czech Republic

    Sep 2, 2014, 10:23 AM EDT

    Jürgen Klinsmann AP

    Speaking ahead of the USA’s clash in Prague, here’s what Klinsmann had to say.

  6. Captain Bastian: Schweinsteiger named new skipper of Germany

    Sep 2, 2014, 9:47 AM EDT

    Brazil Soccer WCup Germany Argentina AP

    Bayern Munich midfielder to lead Germany after Lahm’s retirement.

  7. Record summer: Breaking the transfer window down, by the numbers

    Sep 2, 2014, 9:08 AM EDT

    Britain Soccer Manchester United Angel Di Maria AP

    Where did the cash go? Who spent the most? Which records tumbled?

  8. Cristiano Ronaldo hits out at Real Madrid’s transfer moves

    Sep 2, 2014, 8:26 AM EDT

    Ancelotti's ability to adjust to Atletico's neutralization of Cristiano Ronaldo is a token of his genius. AP

    Ronaldo’s not happy that Alonso, Di Maria were allowed to leave in the window.

  9. Maradona’s quote after Pope’s inter-religious peace match is priceless

    Sep 1, 2014, 11:30 PM EDT

    201409011528557269254 AP

    “Today two powers were brought together, the hand of God and that of the Pope,” Maradona joked. No, really. That’s what he said.

  10. Premier League Team of the Week: Find out who starred on Matchday 3

    Sep 1, 2014, 10:29 PM EDT

    Newcastle United v Crystal Palace - Premier League Getty Images

    From a 18-year-old Jamaican-English midfielder to a 34-year-old veteran goalkeeper, this team takes a ride through all types of players.

  11. Premier League player of the week — Round 3

    Sep 1, 2014, 9:38 PM EDT

    diego_costa Getty Images

    In the end, the player had to come from the nine-goal thriller at Goodison Park.

  12. VIDEO: Breaking down the Deadline Day deals with the NBCSN crew

    Sep 1, 2014, 8:48 PM EDT

    stambouli_730

    Rebecca Lowe, Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe bring you plenty of analysis on the summer transfer window’s Deadline Day.

  13. Premier League transfer window grades – Which team did the best business?

    Sep 1, 2014, 8:45 PM EDT

    Everton v Chelsea - Premier League Getty Images

    Passing or failing? Take a gander at how each Premier League team fared.

  14. Done Deal: Radamel Falcao completes move to Manchester United

    Sep 1, 2014, 8:32 PM EDT

    Falcao AP

    Falcao signs for United, arrives on loan from Monaco with view to a permanent transfer.

  15. Done Deal: Better late than never, Arsenal seals deal with Welbeck

    Sep 1, 2014, 8:09 PM EDT

    Sunderland v Manchester United - Premier League Getty Images

    Manchester United’s Danny Welbeck went away to London for international break, and won’t return to the club after sealing a move to Arsenal.

  16. Americans Abroad wrap: Guzan stays unbeaten, Lichaj & Bedoya thrive

    Sep 1, 2014, 7:26 PM EDT

    FC Nantes v Montpellier Herault SC - Ligue 1 Getty Images

    Nantes, Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa are all surprising early-season teams, and Americans are playing big roles in each club’s success.

  17. Done Deal: Listing all the Deadline Day deals from the Premier League

    Sep 1, 2014, 7:13 PM EDT

    Ajax Amsterdam v PEC Zwolle - Johan Cruijff Shield Getty Images

    The biggest confirmed transfers on Deadline Day including Premier League teams.

  18. WATCH: Bart Simpson joins FC Zenit on deadline day; Greeted by AVB

    Sep 1, 2014, 6:40 PM EDT

    BwcxsXUCAAEscIQ

    If Andre Villas-Boas thought Emmanuel Adebayor was hard to handle, wait til he gets a load of this American character.

Featured video

Official: Welbeck signs for Arsenal