England women’s coach Mark Sampson sacked

‘Mark had overstepped the professional boundaries between player and coach’

 Mark Sampson has been sacked  as England women’s football manager. Photograph: Mike Egerton/PA Wire.

Mark Sampson has been sacked as England women’s football manager. Photograph: Mike Egerton/PA Wire.

 

Mark Sampson has been sacked as the manager of the England women’s football team after evidence of “inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour” during his time at a previous club.

Sampson, 34, has in recent weeks been the subject of accusations of racism, harassment and bullying made by former England player Eni Aluko.

Yet the English Football Association announced on Wednesday evening that Sampson is leaving the role with immediate effect following a historic safeguarding investigation into his conduct while manager of Bristol Academy.

Sampson, who last year agreed a new contract to remain as England women’s manager until 2019, was informed of the FA’s decision on Wednesday afternoon.

The news came less than 24 hours after Sampson oversaw England’s 6-0 win against Russia at Prenton Park.

An FA statement read: “The Football Association can confirm that Mark Sampson’s contract as England Women’s head coach has been terminated with immediate effect.

“Prior to taking charge of the national team in December 2013, Mark was manager of Bristol Academy. In 2014, safeguarding allegations were made against him about his time with Bristol.

“The safeguarding assessment was that he did not pose a risk working in the game. However, the full report of that investigation was only brought to the attention of the current FA leadership last week and it is our judgement that it revealed clear evidence of inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour by a coach.

“It is on this basis that we have acted quickly to agree a termination of Mark’s contract.”

Sampson took charge of England on Tuesday night as they thrashed Russia in their World Cup qualifier. His players pointedly celebrated the first goal with him to prompt condemnation from Aluko on social media.

“I have to say this is the most awkward and complicated issue I have ever dealt with,” FA chief executive Martin Glenn said at Wembley Stadium on Wednesday. “It is a different issue to the one being raised the Eni Aluko allegations.

“In 2014, there was a safeguarding-related complaint made about Mark Sampson when he was coach at Bristol Academy. He had been an FA employee for just a few months. There was a full investigation, a proper investigation, an assessment process and when the report concluded in March 2015 he was deemed not to be a safeguarding risk.

“However, the full report of that investigation was only made known to me at the end of last week. On reading it I immediately shared it with FA chairman Greg Clarke and we were both deeply concerned with the contents of the report.

“Let’s be really clear: no laws were broken. Greg and I are not able to challenge the professional views of our safeguarding experts. We thought the conduct issues raised in the report were what the problem was.

“We felt that during his time at Bristol, Mark had overstepped the professional boundaries between player and coach. We both agreed that Mark’s position was untenable and we shared it with the board over the weekend.

“We had a subsequent meeting with the board on Monday because obviously the full implications had to be assessed. The board unanimously support our recommendation and therefore today we terminated Mark’s contract.”

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