England women’s goalkeeping coach Lee Kendall faces a Football Association investigation after a day when the governing body came under further fierce criticism.
Eni Aluko claimed at a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee hearing on Wednesday that Kendall repeatedly spoke to her in a Caribbean accent.
A difficult time for the FA at the hearing into Aluko’s allegations of bullying and racism also saw its chairman Greg Clarke trade verbal blows with Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) chief Gordon Taylor on Thursday.
And it ended with a statement which read: “The FA can confirm we are investigating England Women goalkeeping coach Lee Kendall following new evidence that came to light on Wednesday alleging unacceptable behaviour towards Eniola Aluko during an England camp.”
Former Wales Under-21 international Kendall was appointed as goalkeeping coach in January 2014, shortly after fellow Welshman Mark Sampson became manager.
Sampson was sacked last month when FA bosses were alerted to the contents of a report by the governing body’s safeguarding unit into allegations of sexual misconduct at his previous club Bristol Academy.
He had also been the subject of two investigations into claims of bullying and racism from Aluko, which were the subject of the hearing featuring Clarke, FA chief executive Martin Glenn, technical director Dan Ashworth and HR director Rachel Brace.
Aluko explained to the MPs how her relationship with Sampson and his staff had deteriorated over the course of two and a half years to the point where the governing body paid her an £80,000 settlement for loss of future earnings as she would never play for the coach again.
She then revealed that Kendall, who had called Aluko “lazy as f**k” while wearing a microphone for the video analysis of a match against Finland in 2014, would also speak to her in a Caribbean accent – a habit she found deeply “annoying”, not least because she is of African descent.
“It would be like always speaking to him in a Scottish accent,” she said.
Clarke was asked to explain why, when sent a document from the PFA providing what it called “incontrovertible evidence” that an internal FA review into Aluko’s complaint was a “sham”, he replied: “I’ve no idea why you are sending me this. Perhaps you could enlighten me?”
He said at the hearing he would “not take any lectures from the PFA on governance”, claiming it was letting down survivors of abuse while paying its bosses huge salaries.
Taylor told Press Association Sport that those abuse victims were “fuming with the FA chairman for his untrue comments and grateful for the help they’ve received from us compared to the FA”.
He added: “Many of them have said he has brought the FA into disrepute with his performance at the House of Commons.”
The Equality and Human Rights Commission said in a statement: “The FA risks losing public confidence if it does not eradicate discrimination and forge an open and transparent culture to demonstrate that athletes’ well-being is prioritised.”
The Women in Football campaign group added: “It is appalling that (Aluko’s) efforts saw a stellar playing career derailed by the very system that was meant to protect her.
“In 2017, women in the football industry should not be treated as second-class citizens.”
A statement from sports minister Tracey Crouch read: “I hope the FA learns lessons from this whole sorry saga to ensure that all in the sport and the wider public have faith in their processes and procedures.”
Shadow sports minister Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, in a statement released to Press Association Sport, said: “It is clear, the leadership of the Football Association is incapable of dealing with allegations of bullying and racism.
“After hearing the evidence put forward and the lack of accountability shown, I have lost confidence in the FA’s leadership team.”