FA payment to Eni Aluko after racism complaints was not agreed by board

The decision to pay Eni Aluko nearly £80,000 after she accused England manager Mark Sampson of bullying and racism was made by Football Association chief executive Martin Glenn, without the consent of the full board.

Described as a “mutual resolution” by the FA, the payment was made after an independent investigation had cleared Sampson of any wrongdoing and before this summer’s European Championships.

This investigation, led by barrister Katharine Newton, followed an internal inquiry which also cleared Sampson, who denies Aluko’s claims of discrimination and making two racially-charged comments.

But Press Association Sport understands there is some annoyance within the upper echelons of the game that the decision to reach a financial settlement with Aluko, who still has a central contract with England, was not properly discussed at board level.

An FA spokesperson told Press Association Sport: “As part of good governance, the FA operates a remuneration committee which is a sub-committee of our main board where matters such as payments – whether they be salaries or otherwise – over a certain amount of money are approved.

“This committee is comprised of board members. The payment made to Eni Aluko was well below the threshold required for approval and was therefore a decision taken by the executive working within their delegated authority.”

The remuneration committee comprises FA chairman Greg Clarke and two directors, Peter McCormick and Jack Pearce. Dame Heather Rabbatts was also a member of the committee before she left the board this summer – but it is unclear if she was consulted about the payment.

In an earlier statement, the FA said the payment was made “to avoid disruption to the squad’s tournament preparations” for Euro 2017 and denied it was to buy Aluko’s silence.

News of the racism allegations emerged earlier this month and the 30-year-old Chelsea striker, who has 102 caps for her country, broke her silence on the matter in interviews with the BBC and Guardian newspaper last week.

In those interviews, the Nigerian-born player made a new allegation about Sampson, claiming he made a highly inappropriate remark to her about the Ebola virus and her family in 2014, and discussed her anger at the treatment she believes she has received. She also said she would never play for England again under Sampson.

The FA, however, has continued to back the 34-year-old coach, who led England to a third-place finish at the 2015 World Cup and semi-finals at the recent European Championships. It has pointed out that Aluko’s complaints were investigated twice, the second time by an expert in the field, and the striker declined to cooperate with that investigation.

It is also understood Sampson has the backing of the current squad, which is perhaps unsurprising, and last week the England men’s coach Gareth Southgate described him as “an excellent character”.

This has not, however, stopped anti-racism campaign group Kick It Out, the Professional Footballers’ Association and shadow sports minister Dr Rosena Allin-Khan from calling for a new inquiry into the matter.

And on Wednesday, Aluko responded to an article in The Times which defended Sampson by tweeting she now feels ” embarrassed and ashamed to be a participant of English women’s football in this country at this time” and wrote she knows others feel the same.

In an earlier tweet, she wrote: “At least we now know the FA’s stance on derogatory racial remarks by an @england manager. Ignore, deny, endorse. In that order.”

Responding to the latest development in the Aluko saga, Damian Collins MP told PA Sport he also believed a new inquiry was needed.

The chairman of the influential Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee said: “I think the whole thing has been handled in a pretty shabby way. It’s hard to believe a man capped over 100 times for England would have been treated like this.

“The case needs to be reviewed, as well as the way in which the FA has handled it.”

Source: PA

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