The English Football Association has apologized to two players for the racially racially discriminatory remarks by recently fired England women’s boss Mark Sampson. An independent barrister ruled that Sampson made unacceptable “ill-judged attempts at humour” on two occasions, to Eniola Aluko and Drew Spence.
Chelsea striker Aluko, 30, said she felt “vindicated and relieved” by the barrister’s ruling but accused English football’s governing body of behaviour “bordering on blackmail” and an agenda to protect Sampson and its own reputation.
Aluko had alleged the FA was “dismissive” when she first claimed Sampson told her to make sure her Nigerian relatives did not bring the Ebola virus to the friendly against Germany at Wembley in November 2014.
Sampson, however denied that claim, along with another allegation that he asked a mixed-race player – Chelsea midfielder Spence – if she had been arrested before, and then jokingly suggested she had been arrested four times.
Newton’s initial report, completed in March, had cleared Sampson, but new evidence from Spence led to her investigation being resumed. As the report of Katharine Newton’s reopened investigation was published, FA bosses faced uncomfortable questions over four hours at a parliamentary inquiry, with one MP labelling the organization “shambolic”.
Despite concluding Sampson had made remarks which were “discriminatory on the grounds of race”, she did not believe he is racist and said Aluko was not subjected to “a course of bullying”.
A report of the reopened investigation, which says Sampson had difficulty judging boundaries around banter, was released as FA bosses and Aluko faced a Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee.
FA chief executive Martin Glenn said Sampson, who was paid nine months’ salary on his departure, may proceed with a wrongful dismissal claim.
Sampson was sacked as England women’s boss last month after evidence of “inappropriate and unacceptable” behaviour with female players in a previous role.