Women in Football "deeply concerned" over Mark Sampson

Women in Football

Just one day after guiding England Women to a 6-0 victory over Russian Federation in their opening 2019 World Cup qualifier, Sampson was sacked by the FA on Wednesday for inappropriate relationships with his female players during his previous spell as manager of Bristol Academy.

"In 2014, safeguarding allegations were made against him about his time with Bristol Academy", the FA said in a statement, without elaborating.

Sampson was cleared after being accused of "bullying and discrimination" by former global forward Eniola Aluko who revealed that when she told Sampson she had family from Nigeria coming to watch a game, he replied: "Make sure they don't bring Ebola with them".

The news comes one day after Sampson led the Lionesses to a 6-0 victory over Russian Federation in FIFA Women's World Cup France 2019™ qualifying.

The 34-year-old Welshman became England head coach in December 2013 after leaving Bristol Academy, now renamed Bristol City Women.

The FA said its current bosses chose to terminate his contract after a full report on the claims was brought to their attention last week. Sampson had been pursued by those accusations of racism and bullying all summer but his sacking was not directly connected to those incidents. "However, the full report of that investigation was only made known to me last week".

After a year's investigation led by the FA's safeguarding unit, Sampson was deemed to pose no risk and was cleared to go on working in football. "I have to say it is the most awkward and complicated issue I have ever dealt with", FA chief executive Martin Glenn told reporters at a hastily-convened news conference at Wembley Stadium. The FA said it stood by the findings and that no evidence of wrongdoing was found. Glenn was informed about the safeguarding report in 2015 but decided not to ask for the full details out of respect for the confidentiality of those involved, yet he re-examined the case last week following the tip-off and informed both FA chairman Greg Clarke and the FA board, before reaching the decision to sack him.

On the issue of what Sampson has been sacked for, Glenn said: "Let's be really clear: no laws were broken".

"Indeed it is unfathomable that an England manager could be sent on a course to emphasise the appropriate boundaries between coach and player, as a direct result of a safeguarding investigation, and not be subject to any sort of due diligence".

"The issue that he understands, albeit doesn't like, is that while he was cleared to continue to work, the conduct that was reviewed and concluded in the report isn't compatible with being an FA employee".

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