LONDON (AP) – Former England women's team coach Mark Sampson racially abused two of his players, according to a Football Association investigation.
Sampson was cleared of discrimination by earlier FA investigations but was fired last month because of an unrelated case of inappropriate conduct toward players in a previous job. The new look at Sampson's conduct toward England internationals Eni Aluko and Drew Spence by a barrister was prompted by fresh evidence.
''I have concluded that on two separate occasions, MS (Sampson) has made ill-judged attempts at humor, which, as a matter of law, were discriminatory on grounds of race,'' barrister Katharine Newton said in a report published by a British parliamentary inquiry on Wednesday ahead of a hearing into the scandal.
One racially discriminatory comment by Sampson in 2014 toward Aluko requested her family members from Nigeria didn't come to a game because of Ebola.
FA chief executive Martin Glenn apologized to Aluko and Spence before the hearing. But Aluko told legislators that Glenn's earlier conduct toward her was ''bordering on blackmail'' after he threatened to withhold payments from an 80,000 pound ($105,000) financial settlement unless she published a statement saying the FA ''was not institutionally racist.'' Aluko, who was part of the team that finished third at the 2015 World Cup, has not played for England since making her 102nd appearance in April 2016.
There was a more apologetic tone from Glenn in his written statement on Wednesday, saying that Sampson's conduct was ''not acceptable'' and he ''would like to sincerely apologize'' to Aluko and Spence.
''Our ambition has always been to find the truth and take swift and appropriate action if needed,'' Glenn said. ''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.''
Glenn was due to appear later Wednesday at the hearing.