Mark Sampson set to leave as England women's manager

September 20, 2017 8:43 am0 commentsViews: 3

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Mark Sampson is set to leave his role as England women’s manager after fresh misconduct allegations were made.

It comes after his side beat Russia 6-0 in a World Cup qualifier on Tuesday.

The 34-year-old took over in 2013 and led England to successive semi-finals at major tournaments.

He was accused of discrimination by Chelsea forward Eniola Aluko but has been cleared of wrongdoing by two investigations and vehemently denies the allegations.

The exact reason for his exit remains unclear but the FA is expected to confirm his departure at a press conference this afternoon.

The BBC understands Sampson’s departure relates to fresh allegations regarding his behaviour in a previous role some years ago.

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The FA investigation

Last week, the FA confirmed it was looking to re-open its investigation into the claims against Sampson after further evidence was submitted.

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 team-mate Aluko, and Spence has since submitted written evidence to support it.

In a separate allegation, Aluko claimed Sampson told her to make sure her Nigerian relatives did not “bring Ebola” to an England game at Wembley in 2014.

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.

Aluko, who has 102 caps and is a qualified lawyer, and fellow England forward Lianne Sanderson have been invited to give evidence to the select committee hearing planned for mid-October.

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Eniola Aluko

Support for Sampson

England captain Steph Houghton came out in support of her head coach earlier this month but admitted the allegations had “hit the squad very hard”.

“Since Mark has been in charge I’ve enjoyed every moment,” Houghton, 29, told BBC Sport.

“I’m disappointed because women’s football has come a long way over the last four or five years and we pride ourselves on inspiring the next generation,” she said.

Meanwhile, on the eve of England’s opening World Cup qualifier against Russia, striker Jodie Taylor said the squad had been brought “together” by the allegations.

She added: “Mark Sampson has been fantastic for my career.”

Former England women defender Alex Scott told BBC Radio 5 live that Sampson had “the most open-door policy” she has ever experienced.

Scott, who is of mixed race and played 140 times for England, added: “If anyone ever had a problem he was open to new ideas.”

How did we get here? Timeline of events:

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, follows the FA’s internal inquiry. Aluko – a qualified lawyer – claims that during a meeting in 2015, Sampson made a “highly inappropriate remark” with “derogatory, racial and prejudicial connotations” to an unnamed player, asking how many times she had been arrested because she was of mixed race.

March 2017: The independent review clears Sampson and his staff of wrongdoing but Aluko is paid £80,000 in a confidentiality agreement, which the FA insists was to avoid disruption to England’s Euro 2017 campaign.

7 August 2017: Leaked details of the allegation made by Aluko emerge in a newspaper.

8 August 2017: Aluko confirms a complaint was made and she had reached a settlement with the FA earlier in the year. She adds she has “not quit the England team”, despite not having played for over a year.

16 August 2017: Further details of the context of Aluko’s allegations are revealed, including the accusations that racist remarks were made.

17 August 2017: The FA publishes a summary of the independent report’s findings – in the form of a letter to Chelsea player Aluko – written by barrister Newton. It stresses again that the investigation “did not uphold any of Aluko’s complaints and found no wrong-doing on behalf of the FA or others.”

18 August 2017: Sampson said he welcomed the investigation and would be looking to improve his communication style.

21 August 2017: Aluko speaks to the BBC about the allegations for the first time. She accuses Sampson of making a racist comment to her ahead of an England game. After telling Sampson she had relatives coming from Nigeria to watch the game, Aluko claims Sampson replied: “Well make sure they don’t come over with Ebola.”

22 August 2017: The FA maintains its support of Sampson while the Professional Footballers’ Association backs calls for a new investigation into how Aluko’s complaints were handled.

5 September 2017: Sampson speaks publicly for the first time about the allegations and says his conscience is clear.

11 September 2017: Senior FA executives are told they will face a parliamentary inquiry over the investigations into Sampson’s alleged “bullying and harassment” of Aluko.

12 September 2017: Sampson appears to contradict evidence he gave to the inquiry when he says he cannot recall ever having a conversation about Ebola with Aluko. England captain Steph Houghton says the manager retains her support.

14 September 2017: The FA says it could re-open its investigation into racism claims against Sampson after further evidence is submitted.

18 September 2017: England striker Jodie Taylor says the squad are now closer together following the allegations against Sampson.

19 September 2017: England begin their World Cup qualifying campaign by beating Russia 6-0. The players publicly celebrate with Sampson on the touchline.

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