The Danish women's national football team "will not play Sweden" in a planned World Cup qualifier on Friday and risks "being kicked out of the competition" as a dispute between the players and the Danish FA (DBU) "has not yet been resolved," according to Philip O'Connor of REUTERS. DBU Senior VP Kim Hallberg said in a statement on Wednesday, "The DBU has today told the Swedish FA that the players of the women’s national team have not gathered in order to play the game, which will now not be played." The statement added that "the FA now faces fines, points deductions and possibly expulsion from the competition" because of the failure to fulfill the fixture (REUTERS, 10/18). The PA reported Hallberg said, "It is a historically bad day for the women's team and for Danish football overall. It is regrettable but also grotesque that we are in a situation where players will not meet up for major international matches, even though we have offered better terms and invited them to new negotiations after the matches." The DBU said that it offered to increase the investment in the women’s team by 2M Danish Krone ($320,000) per year, from 2.6M Danish Krone to 4.6M Danish Krone ($410,000-$730,000), to be used on "higher salaries, bonuses and strengthening the staff around the team." The men's team offered to give up its 500,000 Danish Krone ($79,000) annual bonus for the women, "but this was rejected" (PA, 10/18).
Former England women's national team Manager Mark Sampson "was found guilty of racially abusing both Eni Aluko and Drew Spence at the third time of asking" on Wednesday in an "explosive report into a scandal that has engulfed" the entire FA, according to Ben Rumsby of the London TELEGRAPH. The FA "was forced to issue a humiliating apology after a reopened independent investigation" decided that Sampson "had told Aluko to ensure her Nigerian relatives did not bring Ebola to a match at Wembley" and had also asked her Chelsea teammate Spence "how many times she had been arrested." Sampson had been cleared of doing so by two previous inquiries "but, in a stunning vindication of the most serious aspect of Aluko’s original complaint against him," which Spence last month came forward to corroborate, independent barrister Katharine Newton ruled against Sampson (TELEGRAPH, 10/18). In London, Jonathan Liew reported the FA offered "sincere" apologies to both players, concluding that the remarks by Sampson -- who was sacked last month over separate allegations of "inappropriate conduct" in a previous job at Bristol Academy -- were "not acceptable." FA CEO Martin Glenn, Chair Greg Clarke, Technical Dir Dan Ashworth and HR Dir Rachel Brace were all "grilled" by MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media & Sport Committee on Wednesday. In his evidence to the inquiry, Sampson said that he could not imagine ever saying "something along those lines to Eni." He also questioned why Aluko "did not make reference to the comment in her initial letter of grievance" to Ashworth in May '16, "only referring to it in detail" in August (INDEPENDENT, 10/18).
MEA CULPA: In London, Daniel Taylor reported Newton’s revised findings came after taking evidence from "a number of other England footballers" who heard the comment to Spence at the China Cup in Oct. '15 but, "crucially, were not interviewed as part of her first investigation." Glenn said in a statement, "Our ambition has always been to find the truth and take swift and appropriate action if needed. It was our decision to have the original, second and final investigation to ensure that due diligence was taken. It is regrettable that Eniola did not participate in the first external investigation as this would have enabled Katharine Newton to conduct and complete her investigation sooner" (GUARDIAN, 10/18). REUTERS' Ian Chadband reported Glenn's statement said that Newton also concluded "there was no evidence to support the allegations that Eniola Aluko was subjected to 'a course of bullying and discriminatory conduct' by Mark Sampson." Aluko, who has 102 caps for England, "has not played since making her claims last year." The 30-year-old said that she suffered "victimisation" for "speaking out about discrimination" in the England team setup (REUTERS, 10/18).
'JUST RELIEF': The BBC reported Aluko reacted to the new report, saying, "My emotion is just relief as it's been a long process getting to this point. I'm not architect or engineer of this situation. I've been put in it. I'm a human being and I feel relieved. It suggests it was kind of all worth it going through the trouble and having it vindicated" (BBC, 10/18).
Barcelona forward and Uruguay int'l Luis Suárez expressed his support for the strike by Uruguayan footballers, "who decided to stop playing until the players' association calls a member assembly." Suárez tweeted, "Always supporting your decisions. Always with you and now MORE TOGETHER THAN EVER" (EFE, 10/17).GULF TIMES, 10/17).
The French Football Federation signed a partnership with Chinese sports tourism firm Shankai Sports Travel. The agreement will run through Aug. ’20, and see young Chinese footballers train at the French National Football Center (CNF). Shankai Sport Travel will promote the CNF through schools, sports associations and professional Chinese clubs (FFF).