Stevenage defend former England boss Sampson from racism claims

Mark Sampson England 2017
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The ex-Lionesses manager had been the subject of a complaint alleging he refused to sign a Nigerian player because of their nationality

Stevenage have defended former England Women’s team manager Mark Sampson from allegations of racism.

The Daily Mail had reported a claim that Sampson refused to sign a player because he was Nigerian. A formal complaint was also lodged with the FA, who have opened an investigation into the reports.

The 36-year-old had been out of management since leaving England before being hired by the League Two club on a temporary basis on September 9.

His tenure as national team manager ended when he was sacked amid a row surrounding more accusations of racist behaviour. Although the FA said his dismissal was unrelated to those claims, they did uphold a complaint of discriminatory comments made on the basis of race.

Sampson - who has been placed in temporary charge of Stevenage following the sacking of Dino Maamria - has seen his current employer refute the latest set of allegations, saying their investigation had concluded that they were made by a disgruntled former employee, and that having informed the FA and the newspaper of that, they were surprised the story had come out.

“Like every professional club, no matter where the complaint comes from, we follow strict procedures, which were followed to the letter,” club chairman Phil Wallace said in a statement on Stevenage’s website.

“The claimant was offered the chance to make a formal complaint but declined this opportunity, instead choosing to call the FA.

“Nevertheless, CEO Alex Tunbridge acted immediately to interview and take statements from two individuals the claimant said were witnesses, as well as others that were present in the same meeting, but not mentioned by the claimant.

“In each case the witnesses did not support the allegations. Given that overwhelming outcome and the circumstances of the allegation, the club concluded there was no case to answer. Both the FA and the Daily Mail were informed of that outcome yesterday.

"What I find surprising is that the Daily Mail still decided to run a story and the FA decided to acknowledge its existence, when both had been told the evidence did not support the allegation made.

"Perhaps now that the FA have the evidence, they will make it clear there is no case to answer. Guilt by association – especially when the person is well known - is a common weapon to use against folks in the public eye and when we find it has no foundation, we should be equally clear in making that known."