Pres­sure on FA for new in­quiry into Sampson

Spence backs up Aluko’s al­le­ga­tions against Eng­land women’s man­ager

The Guardian - Sport - - Front Page - Daniel Tay­lor

The Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion is giv­ing se­ri­ous con­sid­er­a­tion to launch­ing a new in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the Mark Sampson af­fair af­ter Drew Spence, one of the two play­ers to al­lege he had made a racial re­mark, came for­ward for the first time to tell the gov­ern­ing body what Eni Aluko has said about the Eng­land women’s team man­ager is true.

In a key de­vel­op­ment to a con­tro­versy that is threat­en­ing to go to the top of the FA, the Guardian can re­veal Spence has given a writ­ten state­ment to the or­gan­i­sa­tion al­leg­ing that on her first Eng­land callup, at the China Cup in Oc­to­ber 2015, she was left up­set and of­fended by Sampson ask­ing her, a mixed-race player, how many times she had been ar­rested.

Spence has also had a pri­vate meet­ing with se­nior FA of­fi­cials to give her ver­sion of events and is un­der­stood to have ex­pressed sur­prise that the two in­quiries which have cleared Sampson of any wrong­do­ing – one an in­ter­nal review and the other a three-month in­de­pen­dent in­quiry, car­ried out by the bar­ris­ter Katharine New­ton, on be­half of the FA – did not think it nec­es­sary to speak to her.

As the Guardian re­vealed this week, the two in­quiries also chose not to in­ter­view any of the other play­ers present at the meet­ing where Sampson is al­leged to have turned to a mixed-raced player, then 22, and said: “Haven’t you been ar­rested be­fore? Four times, isn’t it?” Aluko has de­scribed the in­quiries as a “farce” and the Pro­fes­sional Foot­ballers’ As­so­ci­a­tion has ac­cused the FA of hold­ing an in­ter­nal review that was “not a gen­uine search of the truth” and “a sham which was not de­signed to es­tab­lish the truth but in­tended to pro­tect Mark Sampson”.

Spence’s de­ci­sion to back Aluko leaves English foot­ball’s gov­ern­ing body un­der mount­ing pres­sure to aban­don its pre­vi­ous stance that the is­sue was fin­ished at a time when the cul­ture, me­dia and sport se­lect com­mit­tee is pre­par­ing to summon se­nior FA ex­ec­u­tives on 17 Oc­to­ber to ex­plain the holes in the process.

Although the FA is not mak­ing any com­ment, there is a grow­ing feel­ing within the or­gan­i­sa­tion it has made sig­nif­i­cant er­rors dur­ing a con­tro­versy that has led to calls from Kick It Out, the PFA and the shadow sports min­is­ter, Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, for an­other in­quiry. The FA is also likely to come un­der pres­sure for New­ton not to be in­volved in any new process.

At the same time Sampson may face a more in-depth in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Aluko’s al­le­ga­tions – re­peat­edly de­nied by the man­ager – that he told her to be care­ful her Nige­rian rel­a­tives did not bring the Ebola virus to a game at Wem­b­ley. Aluko was paid an £80,000 set­tle­ment, in­clud­ing a con­fi­den­tial­ity clause, while the sum to­tal of the FA’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion ap­pears to have been ask­ing Sampson whether it was true and re­ceiv­ing his de­nial.

Aluko told the Guardian in an exclusive in­ter­view on 21 Au­gust she felt she had lost her 11-year, 102-cap Eng­land ca­reer as a re­sult of re­port­ing griev­ances about Sampson and the FA’s cred­i­bil­ity has come into ques­tion be­cause of what ap­pear to be other short­com­ings in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The orig­i­nal ex­pla­na­tion for not in­ter­view­ing Spence was the FA did not know her iden­tity, with Aluko be­ing blamed for ap­par­ently “re­fus­ing” to help. Yet Aluko, a qual­i­fied sports lawyer, sup­plied ev­i­dence that clearly states it was a mixe­draced mid­fielder who was raised in south Arse­nal’s Europa League tie with Cologne kicked off an hour late last night, amid chaotic scenes in­side and out­side the Emi­rates Sta­dium.

The kick-off was de­layed as 20,000 Cologne fans, who ear­lier in the day had massed on Ox­ford Street, de­scended on the sta­dium and blocked en­trances, caus­ing po­lice to close the two main ac­cess bridges.

In­side, there were many more Cologne fans than the 3,000 who had been al­lo­cated tick­ets in the away end for the sold-out match. The Metropoli­tan Po­lice said that it was deal­ing with “dis­or­der” out­side the ground and had de­ployed ad­di­tional of­fi­cers. An Arse­nal spokesman said the two clubs had held dis­cus­sions about an ex­cess of away fans com­ing to the match, but it was not enough to pre­vent the prob­lems that will now be sub­ject to a post-mortem by Uefa, Arse­nal and the po­lice.

Mark Sampson is fac­ing an­other in­quiry af­ter Drew Spence fi­nally came for­ward

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