Women's Football: Should ex-Lionesses manager Mark Sampson be left in charge at Stevenage Football Club?

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The former England women manager, Mark Sampson, has today replaced Dino Maamria as manager of Stevenage Football Club.

Maamria was sacked by the League Two side this morning after failing to win a single game since the start of the season. Sampson joined Stevenage in July this year as a first-team coach and now finds himself in caretaker charge of the club until further notice. 

The appointment has split opinions across the footballing world, with some saying Sampson deserves a second chance whereas others have taken to social media expressing their disappointment.

Sampson found himself at the centre of controversy back in 2017 after evidence of 'inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour' was uncovered from his time as manager at Bristol City Women, previously known as Bristol Academy in 2014. Upon discovering said evidence, Sampson was sacked from his role as Lionesses manager by The FA.

His sacking was followed with further investigations after Lionesses forward Eni Aluko brought forward allegations of racist behaviour and remarks. An independent investigation in 2016 cleared Sampson of any wrongdoing, however, a year later a third investigation concluded that Sampson had made comments that were 'discriminatory on the grounds of race'. Subsequently. Eni Aluko and Drew Spence were issued public apologies from The FA.

Although Sampson was sacked from his managerial role back in 2017, it has only taken him two years to regain a position of power within the world of football. The chief executive of The FA at that time, Martin Glenn, expressed that there was a lot for The FA to learn and that they had "clearly made mistakes."

However, allowing the appointment of Sampson as Stevenage manager to pass without comment or deliberation suggests that The FA have, in fact, not learned from their mistakes.

Racism in football is rife, and just this season alone players have been subjected to all sorts of discrimination across social media and live games. Kick It Out found that reports of racism in English football increased by 43% last season, however, Paul Elliot who is Chair of the Inclusion Advisory Board at The FA believes that they "are taking responsibility" for the issue.

The question is, do The FA practice what they preach? 

With English football's current climate in mind, should an accused racist be put in charge of a professional football club? Surely we cannot expect racism to be expelled from the game if those at the top are guilty of discrimination.

Another concern is the lack of black coaches in visible roles at professional football clubs. Earlier this year, Tottenham defender Danny Rose explained that "it would be a waste of time" to complete any coaching badges because black players "are not given a chance to become managers." When hiring a first-team coach this summer, Stevenage had the chance to do their bit in the fight against racism, however, instead decided to give Sampson an undeserved second chance.

Have The FA also stopped to consider Eni Aluko in this matter? Not only was she treated harshly, but it's often overlooked that she ultimately suffered and continues to suffer from cruel racist abuse. 

For Sampson to walk back into a position of power only two years after such controversy is infuriating. Aluko must be left feeling as if her case failed to change football's toxic climate.

With Sampson only in as caretaker manager, his future in charge is not confirmed. Many fans have tweeted the club suggesting Sol Campbell as a long term alternative. Stevenage now has a critical decision to make, and it's one that will reiterate The FA's real stance on discrimination within football.

As long as club employers are still looking to hire those with a racist past, the toxic relationship between football and racism will continue to thrive.

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