Former England coach under investigation for refusing to sign Nigerian defender

Former England women’s football coach Mark Sampson is the subject of a complaint to the FA following claims he refused to sign a Nigerian player for his club, Stevenage.

The FA are investigating after receiving a complaint about an alleged racially discriminatory comment made during a conversation about potential transfer targets earlier this month, reports the Daily Mail.

Sampson joined the club’s coaching staff this summer in his first job since being sacked by the FA two years ago, and was put in temporary charge this week.

However, he is understood to have denied the allegations.

Club sources also claim they gave the complainant a chance to trigger their own grievance procedure, but they opted not to do so, choosing to go to the FA.

The alleged incident which the FA are investigating is understood to have occurred on transfer deadline day on 2 September during a discussion amongst Stevenage’s coaching staff about potential transfer targets.

It has been claimed that the name of a centre-half was mentioned as a possible signing, with Sampson allegedly responding that the club should not recruit him because he was Nigerian. The FA received a formal complaint on Wednesday and have opened an investigation.

“We are aware of the allegations and we are investigating the matter,” a spokesperson confirmed on Wednesday night.

Sampson insists that the allegations sent to the FA are malicious and designed to discredit him given his chequered past, as it is not the first time he has been accused of making racially discriminatory comments.

Former England striker Eni Aluko claimed Sampson told her to ensure her Nigerian relatives did not bring the Ebola virus to London ahead of England’s friendly against Germany at Wembley in 2014.

Another allegation came from Aluko’s England team-mate Drew Spence, who complained about Sampson asking if she had been arrested before and then suggesting jokingly she had been arrested four times.

Sampson was cleared following the two investigations by the FA, but the governing body were forced to apologise in October 2017 when barrister Katherine Newton ruled following a third investigation that, Sampson was not racist, but on ‘the balance of probabilities’ Sampson had made comments that ‘were discriminatory on the grounds of race.’ Sampson also apologized.

Sampson had been sacked as England’s women’s manager a month earlier by the FA after they found ‘clear evidence of inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour’ due to his relationship with a female player, understood to be over 18, during his time as Bristol Academy boss, who he managed between 2009 and 2013.

However, Sampson eventually brought an unfair dismissal claim and received a ‘significant’ settlement in 2019.

It also later emerged that Sampson received a three-game ban by UEFA after verbally abusing two female officials and leaving one fearing she was about to be hit with a metal pole during England’s Euro 2017 semi-final loss against Holland.

UEFA concluded the ‘language Sampson used and his attitude grossly violated the basic rules of decent conduct’ and accused him of displaying an ‘aggressive and insulting attitude.’