Eni Aluko’s claim that England women’s goalkeeping coach Lee Kendall repeatedly spoke to her in a Caribbean accent is being investigated by the Football Association.
The astonishing allegation was made by Aluko during her testimony to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee in Westminster on Wednesday.
In a short statement, a spokesperson said: “The FA can confirm we are investigating England Women goalkeeping coach Lee Kendall following new evidence that came to light on Wednesday alleging unacceptable behaviour towards Eniola Aluko during an England camp.”
Kendall was appointed England women’s goalkeeping coach in January 2014, shortly after fellow Welshman Mark Sampson was appointed as manager. A former Wales U21 international, Kendall was a youth goalkeeper at Crystal Palace but spent his professional career in the Welsh Premier League before retiring in 2012.
He then moved into coaching, working at Sheffield United, Cardiff City and Bristol City, before joining Sampson’s new Lionesses regime.
Sampson was dramatically sacked last month, despite leading the team to record high ranking of third in the world, when FA bosses were alerted to the contents of a report by the governing body’s safeguarding unit into allegations of sexual misconduct at his previous club Bristol Academy.
The former England boss was cleared to work with children in 2015 only to be fired two years later when HR director Rachel Brace brought the details of the case to chief executive Martin Glenn’s attention.
This, however, followed weeks of speculation about his position, as it emerged in August that Sampson had also been the subject of two investigations into claims of bullying and racism from Aluko.
Those claims, and the FA’s response to them, were the focus of the DCMS hearing, which also involved a two-hour interrogation of Brace, Glenn, FA chairman Greg Clarke and technical director Dan Ashworth.
Aluko, though, opened proceedings and she explained to the MPs how her relationship with Sampson and his staff had deteriorated over the course of two and a half years to the point where the governing body paid her an £80,000 settlement earlier this year for loss of future earnings as she would never play for the coach again.
Kendall’s involvement in this bitter dispute was already known as he was the coach who had called Aluko “lazy as f**k” while wearing a microphone for the video analysis of a match against Finland in 2014.
Aluko told the panel this was an example of the “preconceived negative idea” she believes the coaches’ had of her.
She then revealed that Kendall would also speak to her in a Caribbean accent – a habit she found deeply “annoying”, not least because she is of African descent.
“It would be like always speaking to him in a Scottish accent,” she said.
News of the decision to investigate this new claim, however, is the only announcement to have come from Wembley on Thursday.
Earlier in the day, sports minister Tracey Crouch issued a statement which said: “I hope the FA learns lessons from this whole sorry saga to ensure that all in the sport and the wider public have faith in their processes and procedures.”