On September 20th, English Women’s National Team Head Coach Mark Sampson was sacked by the FA following reports of “inappropriate and unacceptable” behaviour in a previous role. Questions about Sampson’s actions arose when it was revealed that Sampson may have directed racist comments at Chelsea and England striker Eniola Aluko. An FA investigation found Sampson clear of any wrongdoing.
Mark Sampson joined the Lionesses in 2013, ahead of their historic appearance at the 2015 Women’s World Cup. At the time, an assessment of Sampson’s previous role at Bristol City Academy found that he did not pose a risk. But the FA released a statement upon Sampson’s firing saying that the full report had only been given to them recently.
“The full report of that  investigation was only brought to the attention of the current FA leadership last week,” the FA statement said. “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.”
In an interview with the BBC, FA Chief Executive Mark Glenn said that the sacking of Mark Sampson had nothing to do with the allegations from Eniola Aluko. Aluko claims that prior to a big game against Germany in 2015, Sampson asked her which of her family members were coming to see the match. When Aluko mentioned that some of her family from Nigeria were coming, Aluko claims that Sampson said “Make sure they don’t come over with Ebola.”
The FA cleared Sampson of any wrongdoing, although there was an £80,000 settlement given to Aluko, which included a confidentiality agreement. Sampson continues to deny ever making reference to Ebola.
The nature of the “inappropriate” behaviour at Bristol City Academy (now Bristol City Women) is still quite vague. But many see this as a dark cloud looming over English women’s football, and many feel the situation will get worse before it gets better. For now, England will begin their search for a new manager to lead them into the next World Cup cycle. If they are to continue the success they have built in the last two years, they will have to do so without Mark Sampson.