The BBC has been running this story on its front page since last night, possibly assuming more than a dozen people give a shit:
Mark Sampson has been sacked as England women’s manager following evidence of “inappropriate and unacceptable” behaviour with female players in a previous role.
The Football Association says that last week it was made aware of the full details of safeguarding allegations made against Sampson in 2014 relating to his time as Bristol Academy manager.
Mark who? Oh, right. Okay. Women’s football. Sorry, where did I leave my paint-drying specs?
Saying that, I found the article illuminating but probably not in the way the BBC would want me to.
Sampson was also cleared this year of wrongdoing following discrimination allegations made by England [women] players, including Chelsea and England striker Eniola Aluko.
The concerns Eni Aluko raised were about perceived bullying and perceived racism. We have investigated those properly, there have been two separate investigations actually which have broadly concluded there’s no systematic evidence for that.
Top-flight women footballer complains about bullying and racism from her male coach. Subsequent investigation turns up no evidence to support the complaint. We then get a timeline (emphasis mine):
December 2013: Sampson becomes England manager having left Bristol Academy
May 2016: England forward Eniola Aluko is asked to participate in a cultural review of all England teams by the FA’s technical director Dan Ashworth.
December 2016: An independent investigation, led by barrister Katharine Newton, hears Aluko’s claims that during a meeting in 2015, Sampson made a “highly inappropriate remark”.
March 2017: The independent review clears Sampson and his staff of wrongdoing but it is understood that Aluko was paid £80,000 in a confidentiality agreement.
13 September 2017: FA says it received the full safeguarding review panel report on the allegations against Sampson.
14 September 2017: The FA says it could re-open its investigation into racism claims against Sampson after further evidence is submitted.
20 September 2017: Sampson sacked by FA
I’m building up a picture here. Are you?
Last week, the FA announced it was to re-open its investigation into separate discrimination claims against Sampson, first made in 2016.
Sampson was alleged to have asked mixed race England midfielder Drew Spence whether she had been arrested during a tournament in 2015, a claim which he denied.
The claim was first made by Spence’s England and Chelsea team-mate Aluko, and Spence has now submitted written evidence to support it.
In a further separate allegation, Aluko said Sampson told her to make sure her Nigerian relatives did not “bring Ebola” to an England game at Wembley in 2014.
Her background is Nigerian, eh?
Two investigations – one internal FA inquiry and one independent review led by barrister Katharine Newton – cleared Sampson of any wrongdoing.
He’s been cleared by two separate investigations, yet people are still unhappy.
Senior FA executives are set to face a parliamentary inquiry over the investigations after Aluko initially raised a “bullying and harassment” grievance against Sampson in response to an internal cultural review.
Parliamentary inquiries, investigations, grievances, internal cultural reviews? There is an entire sub-industry operating in women’s football it seems. Why, it’s almost as if…
Aluko, who has 102 caps and is a qualified lawyer…
Ah, they beat me to it.
Remember folks, this is a sport we’re constantly being encouraged to take seriously. Frankly, my solution would be to appoint a woman as the next England coach and let them get on with whatever the hell they want. Just don’t keep shoving stories about it under my nose, if I wanted high-drama about a load of women I’d watch Desperate Housewives.