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Old 23rd October 2017, 12:00   #1
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Default FA left looking careless and oafish after their excruciating defence over the handlin

FA left looking careless and oafish after their excruciating defence over the handling of the Eni Aluko case
  • FA chiefs spoke at the government committee hearing into discrimination
  • Eni Aluko was subjected to racist humour by ex-England boss Mark Sampson
  • Sampson remarks 'discriminatory on grounds of race' to Aluko and Drew Spence
By Ian Herbert For The Daily Mail
19 October 2017

The FA came out swinging, and by the end of another extraordinary chapter in the chequered history of this blighted organisation, all you were left wondering was where on earth was the humility, the contrition; the slightest sense of self-awareness.

They were led by Greg Clarke, a square-jawed chairman who likes to take the punches and whose bombast was extraordinary, in the light of a top barrister's conclusion that whistle-blower Eni Aluko had been subjected to racist humour by former England manager Mark Sampson.

Clarke complained of being made to look 'oafish' over his handling of Aluko's complaints that she had been ignored. Yes, that term pretty much defined it.

The irony of this dismal saga is that there actually is a case for the FA's defence. They were the ones who initiated the culture review which elicited Aluko's complaints in the first place. They called in barrister Katharine Newton to test an internal inquiry into the racism claims. She said that transparency would have been served better by Aluko complying from the start in the independent inquiry.

'I find her explanation for failing to provide potentially crucial evidence unsatisfactory,' Newton said, detailing evidence that the forward might have provided from the start.

But those kind of details evaporate when the swagger of executives like Clarke and his chief executive Martin Glenn are providing such a deeply unattractive picture of the organisation.

There have been clues to their carelessness and high-mindedness all along. Newton revealed in her initial report, made public last month, that she'd told the FA they really ought to get back to Aluko, telling her what had been established about her initial complaint.

'I was instructed by the FA to provide you with such a reply in the form of a letter,' she wrote to Aluko. So a letter it was, with instructions to contact the HR director if she wanted anything more. What would it have taken to have asked Aluko to Wembley and explained the outcome?

There was more of the high-mindedness in a two-hour cross-examination of Clarke, Glenn, HR director Rachel Brace and technical director Dan Ashworth which was mostly excruciating, occasionally laughable, and grim, when Clarke employed last year's football historic abuse crisis as a factor in his defence.

He'd sent back a disrespectful email 'Why are you sending me this?' when pursued by the Professional Footballers' Association about the Aluko case and one of two contradictory excuses for this offered to MPs was the volume of work caused by the revelations of abuse. 'You might remember it was the biggest crisis in the FA's history,' Clarke said.

He claimed in the same breath that it had been sports governance rules which had prevented him helping the PFA, who had pursued him at three football matches. More startling than the contradiction was that the FA had not even discussed how they should explain the email in advance.

Ashworth had the most to answer for, having been censured for Newton by deliberately attempting to influence an internal Aluko inquiry by playing judge and jury and, we now know, providing a list of 16 people for Newton to question, none of whom had been witness to the main allegation of racial discrimination.

He just sat at the end of the line of executives, ashen faced, waiting for his own public evisceration. Clarke spoke so much that the technical director hardly got a word in.

Clarke provided the most desperate lack of understanding of diversity and management. He was into the last lap when describing the notion of 'institutional racism' as fluff - and the end was even closer when Labour MP Chris Matheson broached the issue of Lucy Ward, the former Leeds United welfare officer who was submitted to unremitting sexual discrimination by the club's owner Massimo Cellino and Adam Pearson, the henchman he enlisted to fire her.

Determined to bring Cellino's conduct out into the open, Ward refused to settle out of court. She has been trying since winning an industrial tribunal 18 months back to make the FA look at her case and it has not wanted to know. 'When did this happen?' Clarke said, when Matheson mentioned her case.

He finally shook hands with Aluko as he left the courtroom but the damage was unmistakable. Why on earth should anyone listen to the FA now? It is time to let the executives go and start again.
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. Martin Luther King
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