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England women’s football coach has ‘clear conscience’ in racism row


London (AFP) – England Women manager Mark Sampson said his “conscience is clear” on Tuesday following accusations of bullying, discrimination and racism by striker Eni Aluko.

Sampson, 34, was cleared of wrongdoing after an internal inquiry by national governing body the Football Association and an independent investigation.

Amid ongoing criticism from Nigeria-born Aluko, Sampson has faced calls for a new investigation, but he says he wants to put the matter behind him.

“From my position I’ve done nothing wrong. I’m sat here again denying the accusations and my conscience is clear,” he told Britain’s Press Association.

“It’s a very difficult position and situation to have been through both professionally and emotionally, but I’ve stayed professional and got on with my job.

“Over the course of these investigations I’ve prepared a team and coached a team at a major championship and I’ve been cleared of any wrongdoing. There has been no wrongdoing on my part.”

Aluko, capped 102 times, has not been picked by England since making a complaint about Sampson to the FA in May 2016.

The 30-year-old Chelsea Ladies player alleges he made a reference about a player being familiar with police procedures purely because she was mixed-race at the China Cup in 2015.

Aluko, who is a qualified lawyer, also claims he told her to make sure visiting relatives from Nigeria did not bring the Ebola virus with them in November 2014.

Sampson denies all the claims against him.

“Over the course of three and a half years in the job it’d be impossible to recall all the conversations I’ve had with the players,” he said.

“But in relation to the allegations, as I have done from the outset, I’ve denied them. I’ve made that very clear.”

After the investigations concluded, Aluko accepted an £80,000 ($105,000, 85,000 euros) settlement from the FA “to avoid disruption to the squad’s preparations” for Euro 2017.

The FA has denied trying to buy her silence.

Anti-racism group Kick It Out and players’ union the Professional Footballers’ Association have called for Sampson to be re-investigated.

Sampson, who led England to the semi-finals at Euro 2017, said he would be willing to meet Aluko to discuss her complaints.

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