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FA have a duty to investigate Clattenburg, says ex-Gunner

WINNER: Davis holds the 1993 FA Cup aloft with team-mate Nigel Winterburn

FORMER ARSENAL midfielder Paul Davis believes the FA is correct to investigate allegations of racial slurs made against referee Mark Clattenburg. The Premier League official became embroiled in yet another race controversy after last Sunday’s (October 28) duel between Chelsea and Manchester United, when Jon Obi Mikel and Juan Mata complained he used inappropriate language against them.

The London club have since lodged an official complaint to the FA, which the game’s ruling body is currently investigating.

Writing in the Mail Online, Davis recalls his own experiences of his playing days to draw parallels with the latest controversy. “Throughout my time in football I can safely say I've never come across the sort of allegations that are being directed at referee Mark Clattenburg”, says the Dulwich-born ex-pro.

“No matter what presumptions people will have about the Clattenburg affair, the fact is Chelsea players have made accusations of racism against the referee so the FA should take them seriously and look at them. It's their job.

“Imagine if the FA decided not to investigate. People would be up in arms”, adds Davis, who made 447 appearances for the Gunners between 1978 – 1995.

Encounters of racial abuse during his 20-year playing career have clearly stuck with the 50-year-old, for Davis can recall being insulted by fellow players “around 10 times” – not to mention abuse he suffered from fans.

Yet the left-footed ex-Gunner remains sanguine about what he had to go through.

“To be honest, as ridiculous as it sounds, I don't think 10 times is that bad given the period I played in”, he says. “I've been called 'monkey', 'n*****' and 'w**' – you name it, I've been called it. In those days you just learned to deal with it.”

RESILIENT: Davis plays against Paris Saint Germain in 1994

Learning to deal with abuse and play through it is a stance Dr Stuart Waiton would find agreeable. The sociology lecturer at the University of Abertay Dundee labels the Clattenburg case as “a perfect example of the spiralling tell-tale culture emerging in football.”

Waiton, author of the book Snobs’ Law: Criminalising Football Fans in an Age of Intolerance, says racism has become “the new secular sin”, and adds that “due to the apparent ‘anti-racist’ nature of the Evra – Suarez and Terry – Ferdinand affair the nonsense of grown men telling tales on one another was not only accepted but endorsed.”

The academic, who opposed the Scottish Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Bill (enacted March 1, 2012), views the current climate of racial allegations will open the door to a slew of other issues beyond ethnicity.

“The spiralling tell-tale culture can only get worse and all sorts of players are starting to complain about the nasty songs that fans sing about them. After all, if black players are protected from offensive songs, why not other players who have songs sung about their hair colour, their wives, their body shape – the offence parameters know no limits.

“In this process football players are becoming infantilised, represented and constructed as victims, a development that will lead more players to feel ‘offended’ by more things at football and will also lead to an increasing regulation, policing and criminalisation of fans.

“Football needs to ‘man up’ and reject the new authoritarian etiquette that is responsible for this spiral of childish offence claims”, Waiton adds.

However, Davis believes “times have changed for the better” for minority players. “There’s no running away from the fact [racism] is deeply upsetting”, he says.

“It makes you feel sick. I just had to find a way to be strong mentally on the pitch; to make sure the abuse did not affect my game.

“There were not the avenues for me to take it further. If I spoke to Arsenal about it I would be told to ignore it. That is how it was back then. It was like sweeping it under the carpet because you had no other option.

“Players of race are no longer afraid to flag up incidents – but we have to make sure those found guilty are dealt with appropriately”, he adds.

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