Campaigners slam football bosses’ disgusting treatment of Aluko
Equality groups have warned that the FA “risks losing public confidence” because of its shocking handling of the crisis surrounding ex-England women’s team manager Mark Sampson, and its “appalling” treatment of whistle-blowing striker Eni Aluko.
“Football is lauded as ‘the beautiful game’ but it risks being turned ugly with allegations of discrimination, racism and bullying at its core,” Equality and Human Rights Commission executive director Alastair Pringle said.
He called on the FA to stamp out discrimination and “forge an open and transparent culture to demonstrate that athletes’ well-being is prioritised.”
“If players of all races, religions and backgrounds do not feel supported and protected then football cannot be considered a sport for all.”
That withering assessment of the FA was echoed by Women in Football (WIF), who have supported Aluko since she was dropped from the England squad by Sampson in May 2016, soon after she complained about his behaviour towards her in what she thought was a confidential “cultural review.”
The group applauded Aluko’s “commitment to unearthing the truth, her fortitude throughout and her vision to make football a better place for others.
“It is appalling that her efforts saw a stellar playing career derailed by the very system that was meant to protect her.”
WIF, which is now 10 years old, noted that Aluko’s case is depressingly familiar, as research shows more than six in 10 women witness sexism in the workplace but fewer than one in 10 report it.
“Why? Because they fear they will not be taken seriously. Time and again it is proved that they are not,” they said.
“In 2017, women in the football industry should not be treated as second-class citizens. Their complaints should not be routinely ignored and dismissed, as their abusers are protected.”
Earlier yesterday, former FA chairman David Bernstein told BBC Radio 5 Live he thought the Sampson affair was an “accident waiting to happen” because of a failure to address a lack of diversity at board and council level.
“The FA came up with some minimal reforms that the government unfortunately accepted,” but the major structural problem “hasn’t really been dealt with. We’ve missed a major opportunity.
“The organisation is still institutionally lost in the past. It’s a governance issue; it’s a structural issue.”