PFA calls for ‘open, transparent and independent’ probe into Aluko controversy

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Eni Aluko has been offered the full support of the Professional Footballers’ Association and her club Chelsea as calls mount for a fresh independent investigation into how her grievances were handled by the Football Association.

Aluko, 30, last year made a series of allegations to the FA in a complaint about the behaviour of England Women boss Mark Sampson, who was subsequently cleared of racial discrimination, bullying and harassment following an independent inquiry commissioned by the governing body.

The striker spoke publicly about the matter for the first time on Monday and made a further allegation against Sampson, claiming he told her to make sure her Nigerian relatives did not bring the Ebola virus to a game at Wembley in 2014.

The FA last week published a detailed summary of the report of an independent inquiry by barrister Katharine Newton, and told Press Association Sport on Tuesday morning there would be no further comment.

However, anti-racism campaign group Kick It Out has called for the FA “to undertake a comprehensive and independent review of the processes involved” and “take on board any lessons learned, to remedy any deficiencies identified” to “ensure a situation like this will never happen again in order to build trust, confidence and credibility”.

Aluko’s club, Chelsea, declined to comment on the specifics of the case but a club spokesman said: “We commend Eni for coming forward and speaking about her experiences. Chelsea Football Club finds any and all forms of discrimination abhorrent and it is imperative that players are supported when coming forward to speak about these issues.”

PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor said the players’ union would be fully behind a second independent probe and would continue to provide support for Aluko.

” The Professional Footballers’ Association has been providing support and assistance to our member, Eniola Aluko, from the first moment she made us aware of her experiences of playing for the England team,” Taylor said in a statement released to Press Association Sport.

“We were naturally shocked and very concerned when we learned of the serious issues Eni had faced and immediately offered her independent legal advice to pursue her complaints together with any other support she felt would be helpful in the circumstances.

“This led to the instruction of a leading employment and discrimination QC who provided ongoing advice to Eni and represented her in respect of her complaints against the Football Association.

“Her complaints were pursued vigorously and this led to the Football Association entering into discussions with Eni and her advisers regarding a financial settlement which she was ultimately prepared to accept.

“Understandably, we share Eni’s concerns regarding what has occurred and would fully support an open, transparent and independent investigation into her experiences and any other incidents which any of her team-mates may also wish to raise.

“We feel that this is very important to ensure that these serious issues are properly dealt with and to also ensure that an appropriate process is put in place to give any other players the confidence to raise any similar issues.

“Finally, we continue to provide support for Eni and will do so for any other member who requires our assistance in relation to this matter.”

The FA-commissioned r eview, in which the governing body is understood to be disappointed Aluko opted not to take part, looked into eight specific allegations by the England striker as well as an ‘umbrella’ allegation of “bullying, belittling and discriminatory conduct”.

The report from Newton accepted credible “non-discriminatory explanations” for Sampson’s conduct after investigating each of the allegations, and found none to be substantiated.

Sampson vowed to improve his communication skills when he publicly addressed the situation for the first time last week.

Aluko was said to have received a five-figure sum in an agreement to avoid disruption to England’s recent Women’s Euro 2017 preparations, but spoke out because she believed there were “a lot of half-truths out in the public”.

The forward, who won 102 caps and scored 33 goals for England before falling out of favour last year, shared links with her Twitter followers on Monday evening to interviews she had conducted with the BBC and the Guardian, and said she hoped now to move forward.

She wrote: “I have kept my counsel but after my honesty I hope this difficult case will now be clear after your reading. I’d like to move on.”