Martin Glenn, the Football Association’s under-fire chief executive, has revealed that a black woman was deliberately chosen by the governing body to investigate racist allegations surrounding former England Women’s manager Mark Sampson.
The internal investigation into Sampson, who was sacked on Wednesday for “inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour” in his previous role at the Bristol Academy, was conducted by Dan Ashworth, the FA’s technical director, and human resources director Rachel Brace.
Glenn revealed on Thursday that he had sought out Katharine Newton – a woman of black ethnicity – to conduct the follow-up inquiry. The Guardian, however, claims that Farrar & Co, the FA’s solicitors, told the newspaper that Newton’s skin colour had been “utterly irrelevant”.
Glenn also dismissed suggestions of racism and bullying within the FA, but vowed to apologise to Eni Aluko and Drew Spence if it was uncovered that Sampson had made racist remarks to them in an incident separate to the allegations which have cost him his job.
That will be looked into by the Newton-led investigation which has been reopened by the FA.
Speaking to the Guardian, Glenn said he feared “two middle-aged-ish white people doing the inquiry may have seen some of the shades of the issue that Eni was trying to get at”.
He continued: “So, quite deliberately, I said, ‘I want an independent look at this and, to be blunt about it, I want it to be an employment expert, I want it to be female and I’d like it to be of a different ethnicity to us’ – in case we were missing things and in case the way we had done the inquiry may not have made people of a different ethnicity comfortable to speak up.
“I feel good about doing that. You can pick holes but I’m not going to get into a ‘he said, she said’ about why some things were raised. You can deal only with complaints that get raised, not total hearsay. It was a full investigation.”
Glenn’s latest remarks come with the FA facing serious questions over its competence after the Women in Football lobby group claimed the governing body was warned about Sampson.
In a statement, WiF said it was “deeply concerned” by the revelations surrounding Sampson’s appointment, which it believes should never have happened.
“WiF understands questions over Sampson’s suitability for the role were flagged to the FA as early as 2013 during the recruitment process,” it said.
Glenn added: “It could very well be the case that Mark said some crass things. I don’t know, you won’t know and I suspect no one will know.
“If it’s true that he has made inappropriate comments to Eni Aluko and Drew Spence, I will apologise.”
It was alleged on Thursday that Sampson’s behaviour was first reported to the FA around the time of his appointment in December 2013, and these claims became the focus of a year-long investigation by the governing body’s safeguarding unit.
That investigation cleared him from a safeguarding point of view and he was allowed to continue his preparations for the 2015 Women’s World Cup, where England finished third.
The FA, however, has now admitted the safeguarding team insisted Sampson go on a course to address his behaviour at Bristol, but no senior official thought to ask for more details or read the unit’s report until last week.