England Women's Manager Contradicts Himself While Addressing Eni Aluko's Allegations
England women's national football team Manager Mark Sampson's attempts to "clear his name amid allegations he made racial remarks" to two of his players "ended with more embarrassment" for the FA when he contradicted his own evidence from the independent inquiry and had to "face questions that he had been caught saying something patently untrue," according to Daniel Taylor of the London GUARDIAN. The inconsistencies in Sampson’s account "left his employer with a damage-limitation exercise" at the end of a press conference when the England manager -- absolved of any wrongdoing in the two "controversial inquiries" that have prompted calls from Kick It Out and the Professional Footballers’ Association for a new investigation -- said on three separate occasions that "he could not recall any conversation with Eni Aluko in which they had discussed the Ebola virus." Sampson had been asked whether Aluko, who alleged her former manager told her to "make sure her Nigerian relatives did not bring the virus to Wembley," might have "mixed up" another conversation when they talked about Ebola in a different context. His initial response was that "he could not recall any previous conversations involving Ebola" and, to further questions, he "repeated that twice." Yet a previously unseen passage from the independent inquiry shows that Sampson "gave an entirely different version of events" when it was put to him by barrister Katharine Newton that he had been accused of making a "racist joke" to a player who has won 102 caps over an 11-year England career. Sampson’s response on that occasion "was to remember an incident when, he says, they had talked about Ebola in the build-up to England’s game against Mexico in the 2015 World Cup" (GUARDIAN, 9/12). In London, Ben Rumsby reported even when the existence of this evidence was presented to him, Sampson replied, "I can't remember a specific conversation." Only when "pressed further about the apparent contradiction" did Sampson say, "What I made clear in relation to what you’re discussing here was an incident where Eni raised a situation with the team and a group of people." Sampson also "repeated his denials of Aluko’s allegations, although he refused to brand her a liar." He refused as well to say whether he "thought the comments he was alleged to have made" were racist, saying that was "for the players to determine" (TELEGRAPH, 9/12).