Soccer

Premier League referee cleared of insulting player

LONDON (AP) — An English referee who is in contention to officiate at the World Cup in Brazil was cleared Monday of accusations that he insulted Southampton captain Adam Lallana during a Premier League match.

Southampton filed a letter of complaint to the English Football Association, objecting to the language Mark Clattenburg allegedly used in an exchange with Lallana after denying the team a penalty during its 2-1 loss to Everton on Dec. 29.

Clattenburg reportedly said Lallana's attitude had changed since he started playing for England. "The FA has given its full consideration to this matter and it is our view that the comments, as disclosed in Southampton's letter of complaint, do not constitute misconduct under The FA's rules," the governing body said in a statement.

"Consequently, the FA will not be taking any further action in relation to this matter and now considers this case to be closed." The Professional Game Match Officials Ltd., which is in charge of top-flight referees in England, said Friday that Clattenburg had no case to answer regarding the incident.

Clattenburg is one of English football's most high-profile referees. He took charge of the men's Olympic final between Brazil and Mexico at the London Games in 2012 and is one of the FIFA candidates to referee at this year's World Cup.

Clattenburg was accused by Chelsea last season of racially abusing midfielder John Mikel Obi during a Premier League match against Manchester United at Stamford Bridge, but the FA ruled there was no case to answer in that incident either.

Southampton said in a statement last week that it didn't accept the verdict of the PGMO and didn't want Clattenburg to referee any of the team's games until the matter was resolved.

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