Clash that led to Samp­son’s Uefa ban came af­ter he chased man with cam­era from dress­ing room

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Sport - By Luke Ed­wards

Eng­land Women were forced to eject a man who was try­ing to film them in their dress­ing room af­ter the de­feat to Hol­land at last sum­mer’s Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship, The Sun­day Tele­graph can re­veal.

The un­known man walked in with a video cam­era just min­utes af­ter the game, fright­en­ing play­ers, and was chased away by staff, prompt­ing crit­i­cism of the se­cu­rity mea­sures at the sta­dium in En­schede. Sev­eral play­ers were half-dressed and im­me­di­ately called for se­cu­rity to re­move the in­truder, who was wear­ing a Uefa bib but did not have the cor­rect ac­cred­i­ta­tion.

The Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship had been iden­ti­fied as a po­ten­tial ter­ror­ist tar­get last sum­mer and Eng­land’s staff and play­ers had been warned of the po­ten­tial dan­gers. As a re­sult, the pres­ence of an uniden­ti­fied man in the dress­ing room caused dis­tress and panic, with some play­ers still up­set af­ter their semi-fi­nal exit.

Mark Samp­son, the then man­ager, was called to the dress­ing room by other staff. He chased the in­truder down the cor­ri­dor, be­fore clash­ing with Uefa of­fi­cials when he dis­cov­ered a bar­rier sup­posed to pre­vent peo­ple en­ter­ing the area was not in place.

Uefa an­nounced on Fri­day that Samp­son (right), sacked as Eng­land man­ager last Oc­to­ber, would have to serve a three-game ban if he re­turned to in­ter­na­tional foot­ball for ver­bally abus­ing one of their match of­fi­cials af­ter he was ac­cused of act­ing in an ag­gres­sive man­ner to­wards ref­eree li­ai­son of­fi­cer Fi­jke Hoogendijk.

The Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion pro­vided six wit­ness state­ments con­firm­ing the man had en­tered the dress­ing room to ex­plain why Samp­son had been so ag­i­tated at the en­trance to the cor­ri­dor.

The Sun­day Tele­graph has seen the state­ments but the FA re­fused to com­ment yes­ter­day. Uefa made no men­tion of the FA’s plea for mit­i­ga­tion when it an­nounced the ban and sources say that the FA feels the ev­i­dence it pro­vided was ig­nored. Samp­son had been ac­cused of con­fronting Hoogendijk with “mul­ti­ple ex­ple­tives” out­side the ref­eree changing room and was said to have ap­proached her with “ag­gres­sive body lan­guage”. The re­port con­tin­ued: “He then picked up a metal pil­lar, rais­ing it above his head ag­gres­sively be­fore throw­ing it down hard against the floor. Fi­jke was con­cerned he was go­ing to strike her. Fi­jke felt in­tim­i­dated and of­fended by his ac­tions.”

The FA is un­der­stood to have de­nied that Samp­son lifted the pole above his head, telling Uefa that it would have been im­pos­si­ble given its weight. It is un­der­stood the pole was part of a bar­rier picked up by Samp­son, with help from other staff mem­bers, in or­der to block ac­cess to their dress­ing room. This was con­firmed in the wit­ness state­ments. Samp­son apol­o­gised for his use of in­ap­pro­pri­ate lan­guage, but de­nied say­ing he would shut the door in Hoogendijk’s face.

Uefa’s dis­ci­plinary body con­cluded that Samp­son’s con­duct was of “great con­cern” as he “threat­ened the in­tegrity” of an of­fi­cial. He had also ver­bally abused Hoogendijk dur­ing the game when Eng­land had a penalty ap­peal turned down. “The lan­guage he used and his at­ti­tude grossly vi­o­lated the ba­sic rules of de­cent con­duct and his be­hav­iour was in­sult­ing,” Uefa said in re­port­ing the ver­dict of a panel in Aus­tria. “It is with­out hes­i­ta­tion a cause of sorrow that per­sons de­ployed at matches who have no re­la­tion to the foot­ball per­for­mance of the teams are at­tacked in such an ag­gres­sive man­ner by a team’s of­fi­cials,” the panel said.

“It can’t be per­mit­ted that Uefa of­fi­cials like the venue di­rec­tor and the ref­eree li­ai­son of­fi­cer en­dure the ag­gres­sive man­ners of oth­ers present at the match, let alone the head coach of one of the teams.”

In Oc­to­ber, the FA con­cluded its own in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Samp­son’s con­duct while he was coach­ing the team and found that he had di­rected racially dis­crim­i­nat­ing re­marks at two of his play­ers. Samp­son, who led the team to the 2015 Women’s World Cup semi-fi­nals, was re­placed by for­mer Manch­ester United player Phil Neville.

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