Mark Sampson 'racially abused England players' but was 'trying to be funny'

Former England manager Mark Sampson did racially abuse Eni Aluko and Drew Spence, an independent investigation found

Former England women’s manager Mark Sampson made remarks which were “discriminatory on grounds of race” towards Eni Aluko and Drew Spence.

Independent barrister Katharine Newton concluded in her final report – published on Wednesday – that Sampson was not racist, but that he twice made “ill-judged attempts at humour” towards the England pair.

Football Association chief executive Martin Glenn has “sincerely apologised” to Aluko and Spence over Sampson’s remarks, calling them “not acceptable”.

Football Association chief executive Martin Glenn, said in a statement:

“On behalf of The Football Association I would like to sincerely apologise to Eniola Aluko and Drew Spence.

“Based on new evidence submitted to independent barrister Katharine Newton, she has now found that they were both subject to discriminatory remarks made by an FA employee. This is not acceptable.

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“In her final report Katharine Newton concluded that on two separate occasions Mark Sampson made ill-judged attempts at humour, which as a matter of law were discriminatory on grounds of race within the meaning of the Equality Act 2010. Katharine Newton did however conclude that Mark Sampson was not racist.

Eniola Aluko and Drew Spence were bullied and abused by former England women’s manager Mark Sampson

“She also concluded that there was no evidence to support the allegations that Eniola Aluko was subjected to “a course of bullying and discriminatory conduct” by Mark Sampson.

“Our ambition has always been to find the truth and take swift and appropriate action if needed. It was our decision to have the original, second and final investigation to ensure that due diligence was taken. It is regrettable that Eniola did not participate in the first external investigation as this would have enabled Katharine Newton to conduct and complete her investigation sooner.

“We will fully support the recommendations from the report.”

The report found no evidence, however, to support allegations that Aluko was subjected to “a course of bullying and discriminatory conduct” by the then national team boss.

Sampson was dramatically sacked last month after FA chiefs were alerted to what it termed an “inappropriate” relationship he had with a player in his previous job in 2013.

Drew Spence, left, with her Chelsea team-mate Eniola Aluko

That followed weeks of speculation about his position after it emerged he had already been the subject of two FA investigations into allegations of discrimination by Chelsea striker Aluko.

Aluko claimed Sampson had told her to make sure her Nigerian relatives did not bring the Ebola virus to the friendly against Germany at Wembley in November 2014.

Allegation

Sampson denied that claim, along with another allegation that he asked a mixed-race player – Spence – if she had been arrested before, and then jokingly suggested she had been arrested four times.

Glenn said in a statement: “On behalf of the Football Association I would like to sincerely apologise to Eniola Aluko and Drew Spence.

“Based on new evidence submitted to independent barrister Katharine Newton, she has now found that they were both subject to discriminatory remarks made by an FA employee. This is not acceptable.”

Aluko was appearing before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee in Westminster on Wednesday afternoon.

Aluko said she feels “vindicated”, adding: “My overwhelming emotion is relief, it has been a long process getting to this point.

“I’ve been put in this situation, and was always honest and truthful about those comments and other comments I made about the culture under Mark Sampson.

“I feel vindicated and relieved, It suggests it was all worth it.”

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