FA apologises to Eni Aluko and Drew Spence over Mark Sampson’s racial remarks | Football


The Football Association’s chief executive, Martin Glenn, has issued a full apology to Eni Aluko and Drew Spence after the reopened investigation into the Mark Sampson affair concluded that the now-deposed England Women’s manager did make discriminatory remarks to two of his players.

The third inquiry, conducted by the barrister Katharine Newton, has found that Sampson did tell Aluko to be careful her Nigerian relatives did not bring the Ebola virus to Wembley and also upset Spence, a mixed-raced player, by asking her how many times she had been arrested.

Newton’s revised findings came after taking evidence from a number of other England footballers who heard the comment to Spence at the China Cup in October 2015 but, crucially, were not interviewed as part of her first investigation – or for the internal FA review that has been branded a “sham” by the Professional Footballers’ Association.

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

“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.

Former England manager Mark Sampson. Photograph: Mike Egerton/PA

“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.

“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.”

Newton wrote in her report: “I have concluded that on two separate occasions MS has 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. However, that is not the same as concluding that MS is racist. In fact, I consider it fundamentally important to emphasise that I have not concluded MS is a racist.”

She adds that Sampson “did treat EA less favourably than he would have treated a player who was not of African descent” and further states: “Had MS remained in post I would be making an express recommendation that he should attend equal opportunities and diversity training as soon as possible. He appears to have difficulty judging the appropriate boundaries when engaging in ‘banter’ with the players.”

Newton’s investigations found three people at the China Cup recalled him making the comment to Spence about how many times she had been arrested.

Her report concludes: “I would recommend that all employees of the FA, regardless of their position and no matter how senior, are trained in equal opportunities and diversity matters. If this is not already happening, it should be undertaken at the earliest opportunity. Any new employees should attend such training as soon as possible once appointed. I would advise ensuring that any training is appropriately tailored (although by no means limited) to the sort of circumstances likely to arise in a footballing environment with a particular focus on ‘banter’ and ‘jokes’ and the appropriate banter.”

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