London (AFP) – English football’s ruling body the Football Association on Tuesday came under increasing pressure to hold another enquiry over allegations made by women’s football star Eniola Aluko against England head coach Mark Sampson.
The FA through an independent enquiry cleared Sampson, who recently guided England to the Euro 2017 semi-finals which included a famous win over bitter rivals Germany, of racial discrimination, bullying and harassment of Aluko last year.
Aluko — who is a qualified lawyer — did not co-operate with the three month long enquiry, although she accepted compensation of £80,000 ($100,000, 87,000 euros) from the FA, whose only criticism of Sampson was he could improve his communication skills.
However, on Tuesday the Professional Footballers Association (PFA) said they would support another enquiry after 30-year-old Nigeria-born Aluko told the BBC Sampson made a racist remark to her in 2014.
She claimed the 34-year-old told her to make sure her Nigerian relatives did not bring the Ebola virus — which had swept west Africa but only to limited effect in Nigeria which registered eight deaths compared to thousands in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea — to Wembley for a match with Germany.
“Yes, I believe it was and again I go back to the definition,” she said in answer to whether she thought it was a racist remark, although she did not include the allegation in her complaint last year.
“I believe it was an unfavourable comment made to me that made me feel completely shocked and intimidated that was said to me because I’m of African descent,” added the 103-times capped striker, who scored 33 goals for her country.
Sampson — who also guided England with Aluko in the side to the 2015 World Cup semi-finals — denies he made any such comment to the Chelsea star.
Aluko — who made the complaint in May last year — has also justified her accepting the money from the FA as being the equivalent she would have received from an employment tribunal.
The FA for their part are sanguine about making the offer as they wanted to avoid an employment tribunal hearing which could have affected the preparations for the Euro and not to buy Aluko’s silence.
Gordon Taylor, the long-standing chief executive of the PFA, told Press Association Sport in a statement he would support another enquiry encompassing if needs be other women players who believe they have suffered similar treatment.
“Understandably, we share Eni’s concerns regarding what has occurred and would fully support an open, transparent and independent investigation into her experiences and any other incidents which any of her team-mates may also wish to raise.
“We feel that this is very important to ensure that these serious issues are properly dealt with and to also ensure that an appropriate process is put in place to give any other players the confidence to raise any similar issues.
“Finally, we continue to provide support for Eni and will do so for any other member who requires our assistance in relation to this matter.”
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