London: English referee Mark Clattenburg was cleared by the Football Association on Thursday of using racist language towards a Chelsea player, causing more embarrassment for the European champions in a difficult week.
Chelsea went public and lodged a complaint with the FA last month over "inappropriate language" allegedly directed at their Nigerian midfielder John Obi Mikel by Clattenburg during the home Premier League defeat by Manchester United.
"The FA has concluded its investigation into alleged misconduct by Mark Clattenburg during the match between Chelsea FC and Manchester United FC on Sunday 28 October 2012. No disciplinary action will follow against Mr Clattenburg," an FA statement said.
The news comes after a bad public relations period for Chelsea, who sacked manager Roberto Di Matteo on Wednesday despite the Italian leading them to their first Champions League title in May.
Although Chelsea had suffered a blow to their hopes of a Champions League last 16 berth, the axing was unpopular with fans and his temporary replacement Rafael Benitez has not been greeted warmly by supporters given he previously bossed rivals Liverpool.
The Londoners, owned by billionaire Russian Roman Abramovich, have also been criticised in the media for standing by captain John Terry despite the FA finding him guilty of racially abusing Queens Park Rangers player Anton Ferdinand last year. He was cleared of a criminal charge.
Spaniard Benitez was unveiled on Thursday and indicated to a news conference that Terry would stay as captain under his stewardship.
In a separate statement on Thursday, the FA said Mikel had been charged for breaching its rules.
"It is alleged that in or around the match officials' changing room at the end of the fixture, Mikel used threatening and/or abusive and/or insulting words and/or behaviour," the FA said. "The player has until Friday 30 November 2012 to respond to the charge."
Clattenburg, 37, said he was looking forward to putting the incident behind him and concentrating on his refereeing.
"To know you were innocent of something but that there was the opportunity for it to wreck your career was truly frightening," he said as the referees' union called on Chelsea to apologise and give him compensation.
"Racism has no place in football and this experience should not discourage those to speak out if they genuinely believe they are a victim of abuse," he added.