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  1. ITV Report

Mark Sampson: England Women's boss sacked over 'evidence of inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour'

Mark Sampson at Tuesday's World Cup qualifier against Russia. Credit: PA

England Women's manager Mark Sampson has been sacked due to "clear evidence of inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour by a coach".

The Football Association said the "termination" of the 34-year-old's contract relates to his time as manager of Bristol Academy.

It continued that the 34-year-old's dismissal had nothing to do with allegations of discrimination made against Sampson by former England striker Eni Aluko.

The FA said it had sacked Sampson because: "In 2014, safeguarding allegations were made against him [Sampson] about his time with Bristol.

"The safeguarding assessment was that he did not pose a risk working in the game.

"However, the full report of that investigation was only brought to the attention of the current FA leadership last week and it is our judgement that it revealed clear evidence of inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour by a coach.

"It is on this basis that we have acted quickly to agree a termination of Mark's contract."

Martin Glenn, FA Chief Executive added that while "no laws were broken", Sampson "crossed the line between the appropriate barrier between coach and players".

However, he stressed that the former manager "does not pose a safeguarding threat in football".

When questioned about why safeguarding questions had been raised two years after the initial assessment was completed, Mr Glenn added that it showed that "the safeguarding process at The FA has worked really well.

"When a wider context needed to be brought up and thought about, it was raised and has been dealt with really quickly."

The statement goes on to say that "in respect of investigations into specific allegations made by Eni Aluko in 2016, The FA stands by the findings of the independent barrister Katherine Newton's investigation.

"Mark Sampson has denied all of the accusations put to him and no evidence of wrong-doing was found.

"We will continue to support the independent investigation as it reviews the recent evidence presented to it and publish any new findings and recommendations."

Eni Aluko's allegations of racism, harassment and bullying sparked an investigation into Sampson's alleged conduct. Credit: PA

Sampson's sacking comes just weeks after allegations made by former England striker Eni Aluko against her former manager came to light.

Aluko accused Sampson of making remarks prior to ending her international career for "unlioness behaviour".

The 30-year-old said that before an England match in 2014 she told Sampson she had family coming from Nigeria to watch, to which is reported to have replied: "Well make sure they don't come over with Ebola."

Aluko also alleged that Sampson made a remark towards another player with "racial and prejudicial connotations", claiming that he asked a player how many times she had been arrested.

Aluko's allegations of racism, harassment and bullying sparked an investigation into Sampson's alleged conduct, but the Football Association and an independent investigation both cleared the 34-year-old.

Sampson also firmly denied any wrongdoing.

Sampson's dismissal comes just hours after the Lionesses beat Russia 6-0 in a World Cup qualifier on Tuesday night.

On scoring the opening goal against Russia, Nikita Parris and all the other members of the starting 11 rushed towards Sampson in a display of unity.

The exuberant scenes drew criticism from Aluko who tweeted they were a sign of "disrespect" towards her from within the ranks of the Lionesses.

Alluding to Sampson's often-repeated claim of togetherness in the England ranks, Aluko wrote on Twitter: "For the most together team in the world tonight's 'message' only shows a level of disrespect that represents division and selfish action."

Parris responded by saying it was a spur-of-the-moment decision to rush towards Sampson after hitting the first goal, and said it was neither rehearsed nor meant as an insult.

Tuesday night's win was England's first game since losing 3-0 to Holland in the semi-finals at Euro 2017.

Sampson became manager of the team in 2013 and has led England to successive semi-finals at major football tournaments.

What has happened in the alleged discrimination row?

  • August 7 - The Daily Mail reported that Aluko made allegations of bullying and harassment against Sampson and his staff in 2016. An FA investigation was carried out and in March 2017 cleared Sampson and his staff of wrongdoing. However, Aluko was paid a settlement in a confidentiality agreement, which the FA insisted was to avoid disruption to England's Euro 2017 campaign.
  • August 16 - Details of one of the allegations made by Aluko emerge. The 30-year-old claims Sampson made a remark towards another player with "racial and prejudicial connotations", alleging that he asked a player how many times she had been arrested.
  • August 17 - The Football Association releases a statement from Sampson saying he welcomed the investigation and would be looking to improve his communication skills.
  • August 21 - Aluko reveals the matter behind her allegations. The Chelsea player says that before an England match she told Sampson she had family coming from Nigeria to watch the game, to which is reported to have replied: "Well make sure they don't come over with Ebola."
  • August 22 - The Professional Footballers' Association backs calls for a new investigation into how Aluko's complaints were handled.
  • September 5 - Mark Sampson speaks publicly about the allegations and says his "conscience is clear".
  • September 11 - Damian Collins, chair of the parliamentary culture, media and sport select committee, tells the Guardian the committee is very concerned about the matter and will summon senior executives from the FA to answer questions.
  • September 12 - Sampson appears to contradict evidence he gave to the inquiry when he tells a press conference that he cannot recall ever having a conversation with Aluko about Ebola.