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Sports

England Women manager accused of 'racist' Ebola remark

media English footballer Eniola Aluko who plays for Chelsea Ladies of the FA WSL as a forward Wikipedia

England's Football Association came under increasing pressure on Tuesday to tackle fresh racism allegations made by women's football star Eniola Aluko against coach Mark Sampson.

After initially clearing Mark Samson of any wrong doing, football's governing body came under intense pressure on Tuesday to bring the England boss to book after explosive new claims by Eniola Aluko.

The women's football star claims that Samson told her ahead of a game at Wembley in 2014 to make sure her Nigerian relatives don't bring the Ebola virus with them. Sampson fiercely denies saying this.

Asked whether she thought it was a racist remark, 30-year-old Nigerian born Aluko told the BBC it was.

"She knows what racism is, she's an experienced black professional player, who would have experienced racism, so for her to say it I don't refute that," Paul Mortimer, Professional Players Engagement Manager for the anti-racist group Kick It Out told RFI.

Aluko also revealed the Football Association (FA) had known about the alleged complaint since November. She claims they did nothing about it, despite the fact that she had also lodged a further charge that another mixed-race player had been asked by Sampson how many times she'd been arrested.

One of the problems with Aluko's case is the confusion surrounding it, interspersed with claims and counter claims.

The striker made a series of allegations to the FA last year in a complaint about the behaviour of the Lionesses boss.

Unbalanced enquiry

However a three-month independent investigation by barrister Katharine Newton threw out all her complaints, and cleared Sampson and the FA of any wrongdoing.

Aluko alleges the investigation and a previous FA inquiry were "flawed".

"Listening to what Eni Aluko says, certain players who were victims of the alleged abuse were not spoken to," says Mortimer. "For me, it means it wasn't balanced."

"That's where an investigation is needed to ascertain the validity of the initial investigation," he adds.

Aluko was dropped from the English team for the first time in 11 years just days after making allegations against Sampson, and she says she's suffered victimisation as a result of flagging up her experience of discrimination.

"If you consider what she's losing. She has 102 caps, scored 30 odd goals as an international footballer, who would have been playing at the Euros. In any other national team that player starts the first in an international game because they guarantee goals," says Mortimer.

Questions over 80-000 settlement

Aluko may have lost out but she's also gained in this affair. The Chelsea Ladies striker was paid around 100,000 euros to sign an agreement that the FA claims was to “avoid disruption” ahead of this summer’s Euro 2017 semi-finals.

Critics argue it was paid as hush money to keep her quiet.

The payout has actually raised more questions than answers.

"There is motive for why it was paid, and that needs to be ascertained," confirms Mortimer. "There needs to be more transparency into the sequence of events that led us to where we are."

Aluko broke her silence on the case on Monday, with the FA’s consent, branding the decision to clear Sampson of a number of allegations she made against him as a “farce”.

On Tuesday, the Professional Footballers Association (PFA) said they would support another enquiry. The fate of the whole sport depends on it, argues Mortimer.

"If players don't feel that they are safe enough to talk out, that breeds a culture of mistrust, deceit and fractures in essence what should be a unified squad," he warns.

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