The Football Association have issued a humiliating apology to Eni Aluko after a new report into the conduct of former England manager Mark Sampson found that he had twice made what it admitted ‘unacceptable’ and racially prejudiced jokes.
Aluko was said to be ‘overwhelmed’ today by a dramatic development in which respected barrister Katharine Newton found that Sampson had put it to Aluko’s Chelsea team-mate Drew Spence that she had been ‘arrested four times’ as players gathered for a team-mate meeting in 2015.
Ahead of a Commons select committee grilling of senior FA executives, Newton said that Sampson ‘appears to have difficulty in judging appropriate boundaries when engaging in banter with the players.
Her original report had found no evidence of the joke being directed at Spence, as the FA had told the barrister that she had asked not to be interviewed.
But having now interviewed both Spence and Aluko – who had not cooperated with the first Newton investigation – it has now emerged that the discriminatory comment occurred before the meeting, which was videoed, began.
FA chief executive Martin Glenn – who had previously insisted that Aluko’s claims of racist conduct from Sampson were unfounded – was forced into an embarrassing U-turn after Newton’s revelation.
‘Mark Sampson made ill-judged attempts at humour, which as a matter of law was discriminatory on grounds of race within the meaning of the Equality Act 2010,’ his statement said.
Newton also found that Sampson had made another ill-judged racist joke when he suggested to Aluko that her relatives should not attend a match in case they had contracted the Ebola virus.
New evidence from Aluko has revealed the desperate attempts the FA allegedly made to prevent her pursuing her claim that the FA or Sampson had been racist.
She described Glenn inviting her to a meeting in the past few weeks, at which he offered her £80,000 to sign a statement saying there had been no racism. Aluko says that her unwillingness to do so has meant the FA withholding half of that money.
Glenn’s statement emphasized that Newton’s new report found that Sampson was ‘not racist.’
He also pointed out that Newton had found no evidence to support Aluko’s allegations that she was subjected to ‘a course of bullying and discriminatory conduct,’ by him.
Newton recommended that Sampson should have been sent on a racial awareness course, had he not since been sacked over a safeguarding issue while at his previous club, Bristol Academy.
‘Our ambition has always been to find the truth and take swift and appropriate action if needed,’
Glenn added. ‘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.’
The FA’s role in the saga involving Aluko, Spence, and Sampson has been under tremendous scrutiny since Sportsmail revealed that Aluko had been paid hush money to keep her complaints from going public.