After several years of investigations, accusations and bullet-point reports, Mark Sampson has eventually been fired as the manager of England Women’s Football. The Football Association made the decision only a couple of weeks ago, but after a variety of inappropriate incidents, his removal from management has been a long time coming.
Despite this, in August Sampson led the Lionesses to the semi-finals of the Women’s Euro 2017. They lost to the Netherlands, who were the hosts of the event.
When we go back to the very beginning of the investigations behind Sampson, I feel that it’s important to point out that this all started in 2013, four years ago. In that time, he’s been excused, promoted and praised despite the continuity of complaints against his behaviour.
It all kicked off when, just as he was starting as the head coach of England, his treatment of the ladies at Bristol Academy, his previous team, was brought into question. Now I have really burrowed into this and searched all over the internet, even hoping for a loaded question from some inconspicuous reporter. But nowhere can I find what this man was accused of, who or how many accused him, and how he responded. All I know was that he was cleared: that’s it.
The FA saw fit to keep him as head coach because there was no longer a ‘safeguarding’ problem. Yet in the last three years, there have allegedly been racist comments, questionable remarks and, finally, the release of the full report from Bristol Academy to the FA. Question: why has it taken so long for these fireable offences to come to light? How would the FA define safeguarding?
As a female rugby player, if I’m working with a male coach who makes me feel uncomfortable, who’s in charge of my whole career, and who clearly feels he has the freedom to comment on my team mates and I, ‘safe’ is not the word I would use to describe my situation.