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