Women's Football: Former Lionesses coach, Mark Sampson, again accused of racism

Former Lionesses head coach, Mark Sampson, has again made headlines for allegations of racist comments whilst coach at new club Stevenage.

Sampson was announced last week as the League Two club’s caretaker manager after it parted ways with former manager, Dino Maamria.

It emerged on Wednesday evening that following a complaint by a former member of Stevenage’s coaching staff, the FA were once again investigating allegations of racism against Sampson. 

The unnamed former coach accuses Sampson of advising against Stevenage signing a defender during the summer transfer market because he was Nigerian.

The club has defended Sampson, saying: “Stevenage Football Club can restate that, following an internal investigation, allegations of racially discriminatory language brought against Caretaker Manager Mark Sampson reported in the national press yesterday have no foundation.”

This is not the first time Sampson has been accused of similarly distressing racist allegations. In early 2016, England players Eniola Aluko and Drew Spence came forward to the FA with allegations of racist remarks and bullying by Sampson whilst in the Lionesses squad.

Aluko claimed Sampson asked her to make sure her visiting Nigerian relatives did not bring Ebola to London when England played a game against Germany at Wembley in 2014. The initial FA investigation cleared Sampson of any wrongdoing.

Sampson was subsequently fired from his position as England head coach following an FA investigation that found he had behaved inappropriately during his time as Bristol City Ladies manager.

Furthermore, the FA was forced to apologise to Aluko and Spence in 2017 when barrister, Katherine Newton, ruled during a third investigation that Sampson had made comments to the players that ‘were discriminatory on the grounds of race’.

After barrister Newton concluded Sampson had made discriminatory comments in 2017 she suggested all employees of the FA should be given diversity training.

Last week, GiveMeSport’s football writer Eleanor Lee covered Sampson’s appointment as Stevenage’s caretaker manager and asked the question: should a manager who has previously been accused of racist comments be promoted to a managerial position once more? 

In light of these new allegations, this question must be revisited and not simply ignored. The FA needs to consider whether or not they have done enough to shut down an environment which has seemingly provided another opportunity to a manager already accused of similar comments.

It seems as if the lessons that should have been taken from the events of 2017 have not been learnt. We continue to talk about new examples of racism and discrimination in football in 2019. Whilst there is much discussion of what governing bodies and teams plan to do in the fight against racism and not enough affirmative action.

There is something wrong with the beautiful game – it seems unable to shake this dirty and discriminatory underbelly of racism.

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