Sweet FA

for Eni Aluko

The lionesses, England’s pride, earn cheers
for guts and teamwork. Sampson is their boss.
He’s clear and tough, occasionally sneers
if that helps get his messages across.
“The coach of France is wet behind the ears...
Spain do dark arts.” Mark doesn’t give a toss.
All managers play mind-games, that’s no sin.
What he does is, he finds a way to win.

Eni Aluko won the Golden Boot.
Ten years an international, tons of goals,
but at the Euros, Eni doesn’t suit
due to – and this might puzzle simple souls -
“unlioness behaviour”. Disrepute
is vaguely smeared, the story’s full of holes
but when a player’s dropped they sometimes go
for accusations, slander, punching low.

Peel back the layers. There’s eighty thousand quid
they paid her for submitting that report.
Inquiries didn’t censure what Mark did
but his communication, so they thought,
could be improved. The evidence was hid,
key witnesses not spoken to. What sort
of botched investigation skims a claim
but rushes to insist he’s free of blame?

The Chief Exec’s in doubt. He needs to know
from someone he can trust, a loyal mate.
The lawyer, Katharine Newton, runs this show
though Glenn always refers to her as Kate.
“Is she a token female black?” “Oh no”
the FA’s lawyers adamantly state.
“So Newton’s not a man and she’s not white –
that’s why you picked her?” And Glenn says “That’s right.”

Turns out Aluko did not volunteer
this evidence. Ten years she’d been around,
a spokesman, legal training, honest, clear.
They asked her. Confidential – not a sound
about who wrote this. So she has no fear,
and documents the incidents she’s found.
He told a mixed-race player, months before
“I’ll bet you’ve been in trouble with the law.”

But Katharine Newton, who reviewed this case
did not speak to that player. The video
of crucial meetings wasn’t kept in place
for checking. From the squad, Sampson let go
key witnesses. And yes, they’re all mixed-race.
Aluko can’t tell press what they don’t know  –
she’s bound by confidentiality
but now she’s not. The FA say “Feel free.”

He dropped Aluko from the England side
just after she reported; that’s a day
she might regret. Much simpler if she’d lied
but she believes it matters what you say.
Her family, from Nigeria, full of pride
once came to Wembley, keen to see her play.
Mark Sampson’s comment never leaves her head:
“Don’t bring Ebola with you” ‘s what he said.

The pressure builds, and Sampson gets the sack
but not for this. It seems that in the past
he had relationships that showed a lack
of true respect. Glenn skimmed that dossier fast
but now he’s had a chance to read it back
Sampson should not have got the job. At last
the right result, although the reason’s wrong.
Keep covering up, that old familiar song.

The players’ association sends a stark
indictment, a six-page analysis.
They get this e-mail from the chair, Greg Clarke:
“I’ve no idea why you have sent me this
so help me out, please, guys. I’m in the dark.”
Racism? Cover-up? They’re hard to miss.
Imagine, if Aluko was a bloke.
A different world. The FA is a joke.