Pressure mounts on FA over Mark Sampson sacking

Mark Sampson

Mark Sampson has been sacked by the Football Association as England Women's manager because of "inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour".

Sampson was cleared of wrongdoing in both instances by the FA, though the Professional Footballers' Association, the players' union in England, has called the internal review "a sham which was not created to establish the truth but meant to protect Mark Sampson".

But Sampson's tenure was marked by accusations of impropriety that first arose only months after he was hired in December 2013, and on Wednesday - less than 24 hours after his team began qualification for the 2019 World Cup with a 6-0 win over Russian Federation - the English Football Association fired him, citing "clear evidence of inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour" in a statement announcing its decision.

Yet less than 24 hours after Sampson oversaw England's 6-0 win against Russian Federation in a World Cup qualifier, he was called to the FA's Wembley headquarters to be informed his contract would be terminated with immediate effect following an historic safeguarding investigation into his conduct while he was manager of Bristol Academy.

A safeguarding investigation decided Sampson posed no risk and he was cleared to go on working in football in March 2015.

Martin Glenn did not take up the role of chief executive until March 2015, so can not be held responsible for the decision to appoint Sampson, but he chose not to ask for details of the safeguarding investigation until last week and has backed the Welshman in the bitter dispute with Aluko, including agreeing to pay her £80,000 to settle the case earlier this year.

Sampson's last act of England women's coach was leading the Lionesses to World Cup qualification, after a 6-0 victory over Russian Federation.

However, senior FA officials did not read the unit's report until last week, having been alerted to its contents by undisclosed sources. "We felt during his time at Bristol, Mark had overstepped the professional boundaries between player and coach".

He has in recent weeks been the subject of accusations of racism, harassment and bullying made by former England player Aluko.

"WiF understands questions over Sampson's suitability for the role were flagged to the FA as early as 2013 during the recruitment process", it said.

"I didn't have an argument with him about this case in point", Glenn said.

The Guardian reported last month that the FA paid Aluko more than $100,000 in alleged hush money to "avoid disruption" ahead of Euro 2017.

"They didn't ask questions at the time".

"We know that coaches are in a potential position of power and that position mustn't be abused", said FA chairman Greg Clarke, who was appointed in 2016.

Speaking to reporters at Wembley, Glenn said this was the "most awkward and complicated issue" he has had to deal with but stressed it is separate to the ongoing investigation into England and Chelsea star Eni Aluko's claims about Sampson using racist language to her and team-mate Drew Spence.

Collins, chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, last night said: "If it transpires that FA executives had warnings and advice that they didn't follow up, then their positions become untenable".

Where this leaves the 34-year-old Welshman is anybody's guess but it is understood his former club, now known as Bristol City Women, were not even aware of the outcome of the FA investigation until Wednesday's dramatic announcement or know the identity of the player involved.

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