A charge that former England women’s boss Mark Sampson used racist language during a club meeting at Stevenage has been found not proven.
Sampson was charged with misconduct in November over the incident, which was alleged to have occurred during a discussion over player recruitment.
It was alleged that while talking about signing a new player on September 2, 2019, Sampson said: ‘…a black Nigerian centre back, you can’t rely on them.’
But a hearing held earlier this month found the charge not proved and dismissed it, the FA said in an announcement on its official website.
The findings of the hearing also found that Sampson was branded as a ‘snake and spineless c***’ by former Stevenage boss Dino Maamria.
The 48-year-old was sacked on September 8 following a poor start to the season and Sampson, who was working as his assistant manager, was promoted to caretaker boss in his place.
Maamria admitted to being ‘annoyed and disappointed’ with Sampson as he expected all of his staff would leave the club with him.
After Sampson decided to stay on, he sent a WhatsApp message to him using the derogatory terms.
Maamria was in the meeting where Sampson was alleged to have used racially discriminatory language towards a Nigerian player.
He told the FA that he responded to the alleged comment by saying: ‘no wonder Eni Aluko made a complaint, she must have been right about you’.
Ali Uzunhasanoglu, another member of Maamria’s staff, also gave evidence about the alleged comment made by Sampson.
Maamria was making reference to the former England women’s striker, who accused Sampson of making a racist remark about her Nigerian family not bringing Ebola to a game at Wembley.
Another allegation came from Aluko’s England team-mate Drew Spence, who complained about Sampson asking if she had been arrested before and then suggesting jokingly she had been arrested four times.
Sampson was cleared following the two investigations by the FA, but the governing body were forced to apologise in October 2017 when barrister Katherine Newton ruled following a third investigation that, Sampson was not racist, but on ‘the balance of probabilities’ had made comments that ‘were discriminatory on the grounds of race.’ Sampson also apologised.
Sampson had been sacked as England’s women’s manager a month earlier by the FA after they found ‘clear evidence of inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour’ due to his relationship with a female player, understood to be over 18, during his time as Bristol Academy boss, who he managed between 2009 and 2013.
However, Sampson eventually brought an unfair dismissal claim and received a ‘significant’ settlement in 2019.
It also later emerged that Sampson received a three-game ban by UEFA after verbally abusing two female officials and leaving one fearing she was about to be hit with a metal pole during England’s Euro 2017 semi-final loss against Holland.
UEFA concluded the ‘language Sampson used and his attitude grossly violated the basic rules of decent conduct’ and accused him of displaying an ‘aggressive and insulting attitude.’
An FA statement on Monday said: ‘A charge against Mark Sampson for a breach of FA Rule E3 has been found not proven by an independent Regulatory Commission.
‘It was alleged that a comment made by the Stevenage FC first team coach breached FA Rule E3(1) as it was improper and/or abusive and/or insulting.
‘It was further alleged that the comment also constituted an ‘aggravated breach’, which is defined in FA Rule E3(2), as it referenced race and/or colour and/or nationality.
‘Mark Sampson denied the charge and requested a personal hearing that took place at Wembley Stadium on 9 and 10 January 2020.’
A statement from Stevenage chairman Phil Wallace read: ‘The ‘not proven’ outcome was obvious to us after a very thorough investigation of the facts four months ago and I am pleased that the panel’s 17 pages of findings issued today concur with our own internal investigation conducted in September.
‘I am delighted that Mark is now able to concentrate fully on his future and not be troubled by allegations made by former manager Dino Maamria and former coach Ali Uzunhasanoglu after they had been dismissed.
‘The club have stood shoulder to shoulder with Mark because the evidence presented by those independents present at the time conflicted with the allegation.
‘Our club will never tolerate racism and we implement the EFL Equality Code of Practice to manage the club and safeguard the nine key protected characteristics of the Equality Act 2010, but that doesn’t mean we will stand idly by if we feel allegations are being used for a purpose.’