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18 Oct 2017

Former England manager Mark Sampson did make racist comments to Eni Aluko, independent investigation finds

An independent investigation has concluded that Mark Sampson,the former manager of the England women’s football team, did make racially discriminatory comments to players Eni Aluko and Drew Spence.

Barrister Katharine Newton concluded that Sampson was guilty of “ill-judged attempts at humour” in telling Aluko to make sure her family did not bring the Ebola virus to Wembley, and in enquiring whether Spence had been arrested before.

The Football Association has offered “sincere” apologies to both players, concluding that the remarks by Sampson - who was sacked last month over separate allegations of “inappropriate conduct” in a previous job at Bristol Academy - were “not acceptable”. FA chief executive Martin Glenn, chairman Greg Clarke, technical director Dan Ashworth and HR director Rachel Brace are all due to be grilled by MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee later today.

In her latest report, which follows two separate enquiries conducted in the last two years, Newton rejected Sampson’s suggestion that Aluko had made up the Ebola allegation out of a grudge at not being selected for the team. She concluded that Sampson had made a comment “in breach of the Equality Act 2010”, and that he “appears to have difficulty judging the appropriate boundaries when engaging in ‘banter’ with the players. However, she stated on more than one occasion that this should not be taken to mean Sampson is a racist.

In his evidence to the enquiry, Sampson said that he could not imagine ever saying “something along those lines to Eni”. He also questioned why Aluko did not make reference to the comment in her initial letter of grievance to Ashworth in May 2016, only referring to it in detail in an interview with the BBC in August this year.

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