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Old 20th October 2017, 12:34   #1
TanyaT
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Default Calls for FA officials to resign as Aluko says treatment ‘bordered on blackmail’

Calls for FA officials to resign as Aluko says treatment ‘bordered on blackmail’

• MP Damian Collins calls for Martin Glenn and Greg Clarke to step down
• Chief executive Glenn denies blackmail on remarkable day of evidence
• FA apologises to Aluko and Spence for racial remarks by Mark Sampson


Daniel Taylor
The Guardian
Wednesday 18 October 2017 14.30 BST


The Football Association’s senior management were facing calls for multiple resignations after a calamitous day for the people running the sport when their failings in the Mark Sampson affair were brutally exposed and the chief executive, Martin Glenn, was accused of behaviour “bordering on blackmail” by one of the England Women’s footballers whose complaints of racial remarks have finally been proven.

In a remarkable day of evidence before the digital, culture, sport and media committee, the FA issued a full apology to Eni Aluko and Drew Spence after a third inquiry, instigated on the back of the Guardian’s investigation into the previous two processes, concluded that Sampson, the now-deposed manager, had made discriminatory remarks to both players.

The report, drawn up by the barrister Katharine Newton, concluded there was now overwhelming evidence to find that Sampson had asked Spence, a mixed-race player, how many times she had been arrested and told Aluko to make sure her Nigerian relatives did not bring the Ebola virus to Wembley.

However, the reversal of Newton’s initial findings, amid allegations of an FA cover-up and whitewash, set the scene for an extraordinary hearing in which the organisation’s chairman, Greg Clarke, had to issue a hasty apology for describing claims of institutional racism as “fluff” and the England Women’s goalkeeping coach, Lee Kendall, was accused of regularly speaking to Aluko in a fake Caribbean accent.

The hearing also heard claims that a black actress was hired for a role-play about a selfish and badly behaved footballer in front of Aluko’s former team-mates, leaving them thinking it was a deliberate portrayal of her, and Glenn was forced to issue his own apology after being interrogated about his interview with the Guardian in which he stated Newton was appointed, as a black woman, because of her sex and ethnicity. Glenn said he had been tired “at the end of a long day”, adding that it was not “a pack of lies but it was an embellishment,” drawing accusations from the MPs that he had changed his story because his initial line was illegal in discrimination law.

Clarke later blamed the football-abuse inquiry, claiming he was tired after “working 22 hours a day”, when pressed on the story this newspaper revealed on Monday about his 14-word email response – “I’ve no idea why you are sending me this. Perhaps you could enlighten me” – to the Professional Footballers’ Association sending him a six-page document stating the FA’s internal review was a “sham” that was “not a genuine search for the truth.

That email, described by Aluko as “dismissive and disrespectful”, was the subject of intense questioning and one of the reasons why the committee chairman, Damian Collins, later called for the four FA executives who appeared in front of the MPs – Clarke, Glenn, the technical director, Dan Ashworth, and the human resources director, Rachel Brace – to resign.

“What’s really concerning is that the best practice that would be in a big company clearly wasn’t brought to bear in the FA,” Collins said. “Why is that? Are there people blocking it? The organisation doesn’t want to do it? There are serious failings there and I can’t believe any of the people on the panel could be proud of the process they ran.

“Does what you have seen today inspire confidence that they understand the issues well enough that they will put in place the right system to make sure it doesn’t happen again? I’m not convinced. You have to question whether they are the right people to take the organisation forward.”

Amid a number of highly damaging revelations, it also emerged that the FA had withheld half of an £80,000 out-of-court settlement it had reached with Aluko and, according to the player, invited her to a meeting last month at which Glenn tried to cut a deal that she either put out a statement saying the organisation was not institutionally racist or would not receive her money. “I felt that was bordering on blackmail,” Aluko said.

Glenn denied trying to make such an agreement, citing a Twitter message from Aluko, which he said breached their settlement, as the reason why the money was withheld. He refused to say whether the FA would concur with the agreement.

Aluko’s 11-year, 102-cap England career was ended within two weeks of raising her grievances in what she was told was a confidential process. Ashworth insisted that was merely a coincidence but admitted “in hindsight it was wrong” that he gave evidence on behalf of Sampson to the internal inquiry that he was overseeing.

Sampson was sacked after the FA looked back into an old safeguarding investigation and concluded its employee had inappropriate relationships with players at Bristol Academy, where he previously coached. The hearing was told that Sampson was paid for the remaining nine months of his contract and had brought in lawyers for a possible claim of wrongful dismissal.

Whether Sampson can work in football again remains to be seen, however, after the damage caused to his reputation and the findings of Newton’s second report that he “did treat EA [Aluko] less favourably than he would have treated a player who was not of African descent”.

Newton had attracted widespread criticism after the Guardian’s revelations that she, like the FA, did not interview Spence or any of the eye-witnesses for her first inquiry. Ashworth, it transpired, had identified 16 players who could be interviewed – but that did not include Spence or anyone who was there at the time. Ashworth has been named in PFA correspondence for deliberately trying to “close down the complaint” and Aluko accused him of wanting to “protect his recruit”. The FA’s investigation was, she said, a “shambles”.

Newton’s second investigation spoke to the witnesses and Spence confirmed that Sampson had asked her how many times she had been arrested, saying “four times, isn’t it?” The testimony of the other England players was crucial, with three confirming they heard the comment.

The revised findings did not conclude that Sampson was racist but that he had “made ill-judged attempts at humour which, as a matter of law, were discriminatory on grounds of race within the meaning of the Equality Act 2010”. Newton added: “Had MS [Sampson] remained in post I would be making an express recommendation that he should attend equal opportunities and diversity training as soon as possible. He appears to have difficulty judging the appropriate boundaries when engaging in ‘banter’ with the players.”

In extraordinary scenes, Clarke hit back at the PFA by accusing the union of paying the chief executive, Gordon Taylor, millions of pounds a year while “turning away” from alcoholics, gambling addicts and sexual-abuse victims. “I will never look up to their governance,” he said.

Yet one of the more embarrassing days for the FA in recent history was summed up when its representatives were asked about the Lucy Ward discrimination case at Leeds United. Asked about a case that has attracted considerable publicity, the four executives looked blankly and admitted they had never heard of it. “When was that?” Clarke asked.


https://www.theguardian.com/football...racial-remarks
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