The FA recently made headlines after rejecting Liverpool’s appeal to revoke Sadio Mane’s controversial red card. Yet a more interesting story involving the FA that has been sidelined is the ongoing saga between Eniola Aluko and Mark Sampson (writes Maryam Naz).
The manager of England’s senior women’s team is facing a series of allegations made by the striker amidst accusations of bullying; this involved an alleged racist comment he made directed at Aluko’s Nigerian relatives.
Prior to the Women’s Euros, Aluko accused Sampson of bullying, as well as making several racist comments, such as whether her Nigerian relatives would bring ‘Ebola’ with them to Wembley, that had disgusted and upset the striker.
The FA were made aware of the accusation, yet did not pursue an investigation into the matter, despite complaints from Aluko and one other mixed-race player, who stated that Sampson had asked her ‘how many times she has been arrested’.
Their lacklustre response did not slip under the radar of the PFA, who said that their inquiry into the incident was a ‘sham’ intended to ‘protect Sampson’ who was cleared of both charges.
Whilst the FA may have denied this claim, their payment of £80,000 to Aluko does not convey an image of innocence, instead suggesting a desire to smother and suppress the matter from the eyes of the ever-present media amidst last month’s European Championships.
Aluko, the current holder of the golden boot in the WSL, had this to say about the FA’s response: she stated that ‘behind closed doors’ the FA’s process into such matters were ‘unknown to us’, suggesting that a serious inquiry is needed to understand how and why the FA responded like they did. She disregarded ideas of Sampson’s innocence as a ‘farce’.
As recently as a few days ago, there was a breakthrough in the case, as the player who accused the England manager of asking her ‘how many times she had been arrested’ broke her silence to confirm the truth of Aluko’s words.
Amidst this new confessional, Sampson has been sacked from the role of manager of the England’s senior team. The FA say that the sacking wasn’t related to the recent allegations, but because they had been made aware of details of safeguarding allegations made against Sampson in 2014 when he was managing Bristol Academy.
The FA statement said: “The full report of that  investigation was only brought to the attention of the current FA leadership last week.
“It is our judgement that it revealed clear evidence of inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour by a coach. It is on this basis that we have acted quickly to agree a termination of Mark’s contract.”
Minister for Sport Tracey Crouch said: “This situation is a mess and raises very serious questions about whether the historic processes that the FA had in place around the recruitment of coaches were appropriate, for something like this to have been missed.”
How the FA will respond to this current accusation – as well as Sampson’s sacking – will be telling, as many of Aluko’s claims were initially waved away.
If such an incident had occurred in Gareth Southgate’s team, would the FA’s response have been so apathetic? Whilst Sampson had stated that his conscience will be ‘clear’, the FA might not be able to say the same.