A player on the English women’s national soccer team, Eni Aluko, received a settlement earlier this year from the Football Association after she accused the coach, Mark Sampson, and other staff members of “bullying and harassment.” Aluko received £80,000 despite the fact that the FA said they found no wrongdoing; as part of the deal, she was not allowed to discuss the details of the complaint.
Today, though, the Guardian reported more details of the alleged incidents, which included Sampson telling Aluko, whose family is from Nigeria, to make sure her family members did not bring Ebola to Wembley. Per the Guardian:
“We were in the hotel. Everybody was excited. It was a big game. On the wall, there was a list of the family and friends who were coming to watch us and I just happened to be next to Mark. He asked me if I had anyone who would be there and I said I had family coming over from Nigeria. ‘Oh,’ he said. ‘Nigeria? Make sure they don’t bring Ebola with them.’
“I remember laughing but in a very nervous way. I went back to my room and I was really upset. It might have been easier to take if it was about me alone. Lots of things had been said about me over those two years but this was about my family. I called my mum and she was absolutely disgusted.”
Aluko, who is also a licensed lawyer, said that comment was indicative of a toxic culture, in which “one member of staff used to talk to [her] in a fake Caribbean accent.” She said, per the Guardian:
“Yes, in a football environment industrial language is used. I’ve been at Chelsea five years and been the butt of many jokes. And I give it back sometimes. That is the beauty of team spirit in a healthy dressing room. I’m not a sensitive, precious person. I’ve been in the [England] team for 11 years, I’ve been through ups and downs. I’ve played for boys’ teams. I’ve played for Chelsea, at the top level, and I’ve been dropped by Chelsea before but I can recognise something toxic when I see it. This is a culture that has systematically dismissed certain players. There is lots of talk about being the most together team in the world – I’ve truly never felt so isolated as I was in that team between 2014 and 2016.”
In Aluko’s original complaint about Sampson filed in 2016, she said the coach made a racist comment to another black player. According to the BBC, Aluko said Sampson “used an analogy about pressing hard in midfield and getting a caution like a police caution.” From the BBC:
“MS then addressed the player individually and said in relation to being cautioned by police: ‘Haven’t you been arrested before? Four times isn’t it?’”
Aluko’s evidence continued: “This comment about the player was made with derogatory, racial and prejudicial connotations.
“It was also a defamatory, untrue statement given that the player has never been arrested and MS’s comment indicates an assumption (subconscious or conscious) that being mixed race from London suggests a criminal record with the police.