Chelsea's Mikel suspended for confronting ref

Chelsea's John Obi Mikel was banned three matches and fined $96,600 on Thursday for confronting referee Mark Clattenburg in the locker room after a match against Manchester United in October.

The English FA said Mikel was punished for "using threatening and/or abusive and/or insulting words and/or behavior." Mikel apparently believed Clattenburg used racially insensitive comments, but the FA determined that to be false.

"At the time he threatened the referee the player genuinely believed that the referee had racially abused him," Regulatory Commission's independent chairman Christopher Quinlan QC said. "But for that factor the suspension would have been significantly longer."

Mikel will start serving his ban Saturday when Chelsea visits Sunderland.