Former England women’s coach Sampson apologises to Aluko and Spence

January 22 – Former England women’s team manager Mark Sampson has apologised “unreservedly” to internationals Eniola Aluko and Drew Spence for comments he made during his tenure, saying he will “forever regret” the situation following his sacking.

Sampson was dismissed in September 2017 by the English FA after evidence emerged of “inappropriate and unacceptable” behaviour with female players in a previous role at top-flight side Bristol Academy, now renamed Bristol City Women.

Before his contract was terminated, Sampson was investigated and subsequently cleared after being accused of discrimination and bullying by Aluko and Spence. He became England head coach in December 2013 and led The Lionesses to a bronze medal at the 2015 Women’s World Cup.

“I wasn’t as mature as I should have been during my time at Bristol,” Sampson told The Times. “My behaviour was unprofessional, which I acknowledged. I crossed a professional boundary. I shouldn’t have and I fully recognised that.”

Sampson says he “apologises to Drew and Eni unreservedly” and regrets not playing a “much more active role” to ensure their complaints “were handled more respectfully”.

“Not a night or day has gone by where it hasn’t dominated my thoughts, and that will continue for a long time,” he said. “The way the whole situation was handled I’ll forever regret.”

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