English FA is in hot seat for personnel practices after Sampson firing

A day after he coached England to a 6-0 win over Russia, Mark Sampson was removed as England women's national team coach.

The move followed a year in which Sampson -- and the English FA -- had been in the spotlight for allegations made by English star Eniola Aluko that Sampson had made a "highly inappropriate remark" to her.

Sampson was fired not for anything related to the Aluko case but for "inappropriate and unacceptable" behavior with female players in his previous role at Bristol Academy.

The move leaves a lot of questions about how the FA has dealt with investigations into Sampson's behavior.

How is it that Sampson was fired now but cleared to continue as England coach in October 2015 after an investigation made in 2014 into his behavior at Bristol City? (That came three months after he led the Lionesses to a historic third-place finish at the Women's World Cup and a year and a half after the complaint was made against the 34-year-old Welshman related to his time at Bristol Academy.

The FA said in a statement issued on Wednesday that the full report of the Sampson investigation into his time at Bristol Academy was only brought to the attention of the current FA leadership last week.

“On reading it," Martin Glenn, the FA's chief executive, said at a press conference on Wednesday, "I immediately shared it with [FA chairman] Greg [Clarke] and we were both deeply concerned with the contents of the report. Let’s be really clear: no laws were broken; Greg and I are not able to challenge the professional views of our safeguarding experts. We thought the conduct issues raised in the report was the problem. Mark had overstepped the professional boundaries between player and coach. We know that coaches are in a potential position of power and that position mustn’t be abused. We have to be really clear, and I think we are at the FA, about what we stand for in that respect.”

Another concern: how is it that Sampson, named England coach in December 2013, was fired now but Glenn told the BBC's Richard Conway that Sampson was "absolutely clear" to work as a soccer coach? "I think that's for other people to make their mind up," Glenn said.

British minister for sport Tracey Crouch said the handling of the case -- almost a year to the day after Sam Allardyce departed as men's national team coach after a newspaper sting -- raises some serious issues.

"This situation is a mess," he said, "and raises very serious questions about whether the historic processes that the FA had in place around the recruitment of coaches were appropriate, for something like this to have been missed. The FA are right to have taken action but reassurance is needed to make sure this does not happen again at any level of coaching."

Questions about the Aluko case also have lingered. Sampson and his staff were cleared after two investigations into Aluko's charges, but the FA reportedly paid Aluko 80,000 pounds ($108,000) to settle the case. A third investigation into claims made by Aluko about Sampson continues, as does another made by another England player, Drew Spence.

The FA will remain in the spotlight -- a parliamentary committee on culture, media and sport will hold hearings next month -- for how it handled the Sampson case. It is also investigating systemic sexual abuse of children in English soccer that went back decades.

“We are not going to apologize for wanting to drive higher standards,” Clarke said on Wednesday. “Let’s look at safeguarding in sport and football, the whole culture has been ignore it, don’t deal with it, hide it, put it under the carpet, because bad things will happen. We know we can’t do that so there are plenty of people in the game that have got an unblemished record to provide a great pool for us to continue to recruit great coaches from.”
2 comments about "English FA is in hot seat for personnel practices after Sampson firing".
  1. mike renshaw, September 21, 2017 at 9:52 a.m.

    Sampson should have been fired for his 19th century coaching 'style'...his over emphasis on 'fitness camps' instead of actually working to improve the players skill level, tactical understanding, game sense and field awareness. England were out played in the Euros in each game by teams who knew how to keep the ball, use the ball and let the ball do the 'running'....

  2. beautiful game, September 21, 2017 at 10:42 p.m.

    Thank u M.R. on how the game should be coached.

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