By 90Min
January 22, 2019

The former England women's coach Mark Sampson has offered an unreserved apology to two of his former players Eni Aluko and Drew Spence for remarks he made while in charge of the national team.

Sampson was sacked by the Football Association in September 2017 following allegations of “inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour” in his previous role as manager at Bristol Academy. 

The Guardian then published allegations made by Aluko in October 2017 that Sampson made a 'racist' remark towards her.

FRANCK FIFE/GettyImages

As quoted by the Guardian, independent barrister Katharine Newton, who led the enquiry in to Sampson following the allegations, revealed Sampson had “on two separate occasions made ill-judged attempts at humour, which, as a matter of law, were discriminatory on the grounds of race” but added that “it was fundamentally important to emphasise that I have not concluded that MS is a racist”.

Sampson, speaking to the Times on Monday, said he regrets how the complaints towards him were handled: He said: “I believed strongly that the way the team worked, if I had said something that offended anyone, it would have been brought up at the time. I was wrong. Ultimately two players were offended by language I used. For that I apologise to Drew and Eni unreservedly.

“When players made complaints, they needed to be handled with the respect they deserved. I don’t think it was handled with the humility that it should have been by a lot of people. I certainly should have played a much more active role to ensure they were handled more respectfully. That’s a big regret I will always have.”

Alex Livesey/GettyImages

Sampson was hired as England manager in 2013 and during his time at the team he led them to third place in the 2015 World Cup and took them to a European Championship semi-final in 207.

On Monday he said: “As a white male I needed to do more and I’ve worked hard to educate myself. I reached out to Lord Ouseley [of Kick it Out] and, very honourably, he invited me into the Houses of Parliament for a coffee. We had a really positive conversation.

“I spent six weeks with Kick It Out on their educational course for equality and diversity. I need to play a more active role in making a difference. It’s something I will do for the rest of my life.”

Alex Livesey/GettyImages

Mark Sampson has not worked in football since his discharge but has since received significant financial settlement from the governing body this month after he raised a case of unfair dismissal against his former employers.

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