Tuesday 11 December 2018

FA chief executive Martin Glenn denies asking female player to write statement saying association is not racist

Martin Glenn took up the role of FA chief executive in May 2015
Martin Glenn took up the role of FA chief executive in May 2015

Andy Sims

Football Association chief executive Martin Glenn has denied asking Eni Aluko to put out a statement saying the governing body is not institutionally racist.

Aluko accused Glenn of "bordering on blackmail" by saying he would only release part of her £80,000 FA settlement if she made the statement, which she "categorically refused to write".

But Glenn, being grilled by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee over the FA's handling of the Mark Sampson affair, claimed he merely objected to a tweet Aluko wrote on the issue.

He said: "On August 30 Eniola tweeted 'At least we now know the FA's stance on derogatory racial remarks by an England manager. Ignore, deny, endorse. In that order'.

"We took legal advice on that and the advice we received was that was a clear breach of the agreement we had both entered into.

"I sought a meeting with the PFA and Eniola on September 11 and what I was seeking to do was break this impasse.

"Eniola used words like, 'I'd like to draw a line under this'. My question to her was, 'We have to put this to bed'."

Asked if he categorically denied asking Aluko to write a statement clearing the FA of institutional racism, Glenn replied: "Yes."

He continued: "Her point was, 'This is just one tweet, I didn't mean how it was interpreted'. So I said, 'Let's, on this issue, get down the facts about what you think is the case about the FA'."

Asked whether Aluko will receive the rest of the money owed from the settlement, Glenn replied: "We will reflect on it."

Earlier, Aluko had told the committee: "Martin Glenn said if I wrote a statement he would release the second tranche of the money. I felt that was bordering on blackmail.

"I categorically refused to write it. It's not for me to come up with that determination.

"I would never say the FA are institutionally racist. My comments were based on comments to me and Drew Spence and how they handled that.

"For Martin Glenn to say I should say that in order to get a payment I was contractually agreed to is appalling."

Aluko said she felt "vindicated" after an investigation concluded former England women's manager Sampson made remarks which were "discriminatory on grounds of race" towards her and team-mate Spence.

And the striker claimed the FA had an agenda to protect Sampson and its own reputation during her evidence to a sport governance inquiry.

Independent barrister Katharine Newton concluded in her final report that Sampson - previously cleared twice over the allegations - was not racist, but that he had made "ill-judged attempts at humour" towards the players.

Aluko said: "I feel vindicated and relieved. Although I'm grateful to be here today, does it have to come to this?

"There's been an agenda to protect Mark Sampson, and an agenda to protect the FA's reputation."

In a damning submission, Aluko also alleged that England goalkeeping coach Lee Kendall spoke to her in a fake Caribbean accent.

She claimed the FA was "dismissive" when she first made her allegation that Sampson had told her to make sure her Nigerian relatives did not bring the Ebola virus to the friendly against Germany at Wembley in November 2014.

Sampson denied that claim, along with another allegation that he asked a mixed-race player - Spence - if she had been arrested before, and then jokingly suggested she had been arrested four times.

"They were very keen to say there was no wrongdoing without looking at the video evidence," Aluko said. "They were dismissive straight away in the first meeting. We didn't speak about specific itemised issues."

Aluko, who has not been picked for England since making the allegations, went on to question whether a similar complaint from a male player would have received the same response.

She said she was "astonished" at an email from FA chairman Greg Clarke, in reply to a document about the incident from the PFA, which read: "I've no idea why you are sending me this. Perhaps you could enlighten me?'

Aluko added: "I actually felt sending it to the FA chairman would lead to a better process. But it was the opposite.

"If it's the FA chairman disrespectfully dismissing the complaint, I have nowhere to go. The last resort is to go the employment tribunal.

"A male player with 102 caps, Wayne Rooney, if they were to send a complaint like that, would he respond like that?"

Yet Glenn defended the FA's handling of the case, and insisted: "I believe we have handled this with decency and openness. We took Eni's concerns seriously.

"We regret that the two comments, the inappropriate banter, was made, but the spirit in which we approached the concerns has been good."

However, he later admitted: "In this case, there has clearly been mistakes."

Sampson was sacked last month after FA chiefs were alerted to what it termed an ''inappropriate'' relationship he had with a player in his previous job in 2013.

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