The Professional Footballers’ Association backed the call for "an open, transparent and independent investigation" into how England int'l and Chelsea Ladies player Eni Aluko’s grievances were handled by the FA, according to the London GUARDIAN. Its intervention came as Chelsea "commended" its forward for "speaking about her experiences" after she accused England women's national team Manager Mark Sampson of telling her to make sure her Nigerian relatives "did not bring Ebola to a game at Wembley." Aluko also described as a "farce" two FA inquiries into allegations that Sampson "asked a mixed-race player at an England meeting how many times she had been arrested." Sampson is understood to have denied making the alleged Ebola remark and "was cleared of wrongdoing by the FA in relation to the other matter and to further allegations made by Aluko that she had been the victim of bullying and discrimination." The FA has admitted the mixed-race player "was not spoken to during the two investigations it commissioned." It said that it has not investigated the alleged Ebola remark, described as a "racist joke" in a letter from the PFA to the governing body, because "there was no formal allegation." Anti-racism campaign group Kick It Out called for the FA "to undertake a comprehensive and independent review of the processes involved." PFA CEO Gordon Taylor "offered his continued support to Aluko." He said, "We were naturally shocked and very concerned when we learned of the serious issues Eni had faced and immediately offered her independent legal advice." In a statement, Chelsea said, "We commend Eni for coming forward and speaking about her experiences. Chelsea football club finds any and all forms of discrimination abhorrent and it is imperative that players are supported when coming forward to speak about these issues" (GUARDIAN, 8/22).
In London, Ben Rumsby reported former FA Dir of Corporate Affairs Simon Johnson "also backed another inquiry." Taylor said that any new inquiry should be led by a QC or barrister jointly appointed by the FA and PFA, a view "endorsed by Johnson, whose remit at the FA included anti-discrimination matters." Johnson said, "When I was looking after race equality at the FA, I continued to preach that we needed to have visible, confidence-building measures if we were going to eliminate racism from the game. There is a situation here where there is a complete lack of confidence and it’s being played out publicly." Kick It Out Chair Herman Ouseley said, "Whilst welcoming what Gordon Taylor is saying, I'm surprised that, firstly, they concluded a deal that didn't safeguard the interests of all their members and, secondly, it's taken a year and a half before they've uttered a word identifying weaknesses that needed rectifying a long time ago" (TELEGRAPH, 8/22
HITTING A NERVE: The PA reported Aluko said, "In 2014 we had a big game against Germany. He [Sampson] asked me, 'Who's coming to watch the game for you?' I said, 'I've got family flying in from Nigeria.' And he said, 'Make sure they don't come over with Ebola.' ... Now I've been part of many dressing rooms. I'm used to industrial language, used to sometimes a bit of banter, a bit of a joke -- but that was about my family coming to a game, and at the time, Ebola was a sensitive thing." She added, "This evidence has been submitted to the Football Association. They chose to ignore it." Aluko said that she was speaking out now because there were "a lot of half-truths out in the public" (PA, 8/21).
Former Premier League players Carlos Tevez, Dirk Kuyt and Gabriel Heinze have been "named by hackers Fancy Bears as three of the footballers cleared to use banned medicines" at the 2010 World Cup, according to the BBC. The trio "were among 25 players given therapeutic use exemptions" during the tournament in South Africa. The Russian hacking group also claimed 160 players "failed drugs tests" in '15. Four of the failed tests were registered by UK Anti-Doping. This is the first time Fancy Bears hackers "released details about TUEs in football." Tevez, now 33, was playing for Man City during the 2010 World Cup, having moved from ManU the previous year. There is "no suggestion any of these footballers have done anything wrong." The latest hack includes an email from FA Head of Integrity Jenni Kennedy to FIFA. The FA said that it was "disappointed that strictly confidential information has been released into the public domain." Tevez, Heinze and former ManU and Argentina midfielder Juan Sebastián Verón were prescribed betamethasone -- a corticosteroid "with a variety of uses." It "does not feature directly" on WADA's prohibited list, but is "banned depending on the strength of the dose used" (BBC, 8/22). The London INDEPENDENT reported the FA is "working to discover the extent of the Fancy Bears hack which made revelations about football's anti-doping procedures." In a statement, the FA said, "In the event that an Anti-Doping Rule Violation has been committed, full details will be published on The FA website in line with The World Anti-Doping Code" (INDEPENDENT, 8/22).
Half of Scottish football fans said that they have been "subjected to sectarianism in and around football stadia, with 81% believing it is a problem for the game," according to the BBC. But they told a Supporters Direct Scotland survey that value for money was "the biggest threat to the future of the game in the next five years." The annual Scottish Football Supporters Survey had "nearly 14,000 submissions." SDS Head Andrew Jenkin said, "Supporter experience is not rated highly and part of that is because of fan behavior." The survey also reported that 18% of those taking part claimed to have been "subjected to physical abuse in and around Scottish football stadia." Jenkin said that SDS had asked the governing bodies to help organize a "supporter-led event" to discuss "ways of tackling aggression at football matches." The Scottish Professional Football League last year rejected the idea of "introducing a strict liability rule that would dock points from clubs should their fans continue to misbehave" (BBC, 8/22).
The German Football League (DFL) called the problems that hit Video Assistant Referee technology in the Bundesliga on Saturday "unacceptable," according to Stephan Uersfeld of ESPN.com. Technical difficulties "overshadowed the introduction of VAR, with video officials unable to contact their counterparts on the pitch." The DFL in a statement said, "Massive technical problems for service provider Hawkeye led to restrictions on the use of the video assistant at the 3.30 p.m. matches in the Bundesliga." On Monday, German magazine Kicker reported that there "had been no contact between the VAR official and the referee at Hamburg, while contact was made only sporadically at Hertha Berlin and Hoffenheim." DFL officials said that "talks would be held with Hawkeye to discuss the problems." Saturday's technical problems came after a "successful use of VAR in Friday's season opener between Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen" (ESPN.com, 8/22).
Spain's Social Security office "has been investigating La Liga for months" as it looks to determine whether the league committed labor fraud by using independent personnel to fill the role of "game director." Those workers "should have been considered employees based on the nature of their work and their relationship with La Liga," sources said. If it is ruled that La Liga broke the law, it could have to pay Spain's Social Security office up to €2M ($2.35M) (EL CONFIDENCIAL, 8/22).
Tottenham striker Harry Kane "has backed proposals to close the transfer window before the start of the season," saying the fact that it runs until Aug. 31 means some players "find it hard to concentrate." Premier League clubs "will vote on potential changes -- including closing it before the season -- on Sept. 7." Kane said, "When the season starts it would be good to just have everyone where they are and you could get on with the season" (ESPN.com, 8/22).
After one match at Wembley Stadium, Tottenham scrapped its "plan to play drum noises over the PA system in an effort to help create atmosphere inside the ground." Chelsea fans were "quick to notice" that the loudspeakers inside the national stadium were "pumping out drumming on occasion" during the first half of Sunday’s game (London NDEPENDENT, 8/23).
Premier League side Leicester City "condemned the anti-gay chanting" that took place against Brighton & Hove Albion. A Leicester City spokesperson said, "We are committed to creating a passionate, inclusive, welcoming environment at King Power Stadium, in which everyone is free to enjoy the matchday experience. ... While disappointed that such abuse took place during Saturday's match, we are satisfied that our stewards reacted swiftly and appropriately" (PA, 8/22).
A football fan in Austria "has been jailed for 18 months for performing a Nazi salute" during a match. The skinhead supporter of Rapid Vienna's "hardcore 'ultra' wing" was spotted doing the gesture during a match in Aug. '16 -- "flouting the country's tough laws against Nazi glorification." The 39-year-old, who "has not been named," was convicted and sentenced in Vienna on Monday (INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS TIMES, 8/23).