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Eniola Aluko Vs the England Football Association: Waving Change for Black Sports Players

Nigerian Eniola Aluko received a settlement payment of £80,000 from the FA following her discrimination complaint against former England Women’s head coach, Mark Sampson.

PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor said, “She’s gone through a lot. I’m pleased to say a couple of days after [evidence in Parliament] they paid the second and final installment.

“But there are a lot of areas in this issue that weren’t satisfactory and we need to get them right. Again, it’s no use just talking the talk; we’ve got to walk the walk. We’ve got to be clear… transparent, accountable and responsible.”


Aluko a Nigerian-born who plays for Chelsea football club and the England national Women’s team (102 caps) said that while on national duty in 2015, the then coach (Sampson) told her to ‘make sure her family did not bring Ebola to Wembley’.

Aluko who is also a lawyer raised a complaint against Sampson but he was cleared of any wrongdoing by the inquiries set up on behalf of the FA. Evidence from Drew Spence a mixed-race player to the fact that Sampson had asked her how many times she had been arrested, led to the reopening of the investigations.

Mark Sampson denied both claims.

She then reached a settlement agreement with the FA of £80,000 – the settlement was based on loss of future earnings. She felt she would never play for England under Mark Sampson and she hasn’t since May 2016, and only half was paid. The other half was withheld because she refused to put out a statement saying FA was not “institutionally racist” – a ploy to protect Sampson and the FA’s reputation.

Sampson was later fired in September 2017 for unspecified “inappropriate and unacceptable behavior” with female players in his job at Bristol Academy – an investigation report had recommended that Sampson go for mentoring.

The report released an hour before the FA bosses were to appear before the Department of Culture, Media and Sports, concluded that Sampson had indeed made the remarks which were discriminatory on the grounds of race but did not prove he was racist. Instead, he was considered to have difficulty identifying boundaries around banter!

Upon hearing the news, Aluko said, “I finally feel vindicated, a sense of justice.”

A parliamentary inquiry session over the investigations into Sampson’s alleged racist and bullying behavior was held on 18th October.

During the hearing, Aluko said, [perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”I couldn’t tell you today what the whistleblowing procedure is in the FA. I spoke to Dan Ashworth, ‘I’m struggling, I would like to have a meeting with you about how Mark Sampson is treating me’.[/perfectpullquote]

“That meeting never materialized. Had I not been asked to be part of the culture review, I don’t know what I would have done. There is no process. That’s very much how it felt.”

Lianne Sanderson also testified to the fact that Aluko was treated differently, saying, “Mark and I had a good relationship at the beginning but the way Eni was treated from week one was how I felt I was treated afterward.”

Sanderson also said that she did not expect to be selected for her country again after speaking out in defense of team-mate Aluko.

FA chief executive Martin Glenn during the hearing said“We want to issue a full apology to Drew Spence and Eni Aluko. They were both subjected to discriminatory remarks, which is against the Equality Act and the values of the FA. We have a grievance procedure, but it’s clearly fallen short. In terms of a general apology about how we (FA) have handled this, I think we have handled this with decency. I think the FA has taken it very seriously.”

Yesterday (26th October) the FA fully paid Aluko’s second and final part of the settlement and Gordon Taylor stated that change was needed at the FA in terms of how they deal with player welfare as the current framework is not satisfactory.

“We have to make sure that those on the job are doing it in the right way and are genuine and really care about it.”

Anita Asante her former teammate at Chelsea and England national team said, “I didn’t ever think for a single second that she wasn’t telling the truth. She’s a tough character on the field and is not afraid to give her opinion if she wants things to happen or needs to give people a kick up the arse.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“She’s shown it just takes one person willing to have the courage to stand up and talk. Many who feel like this in their own sport or place of work can see there is someone who has dared to do it.”[/perfectpullquote]

Featured Photo: Getty Images

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