THE Eniola Aluko versus the Football Association shambles is a glaring example of how we are losing all sense of perspective over what is and isn’t a major issue.
Mole hills are often made into mountains and vice versa today with ‘racism’ and political correctness being major drivers.
Let’s recall what this storm-in-a-teacup, resulting in four hours of dirty linen being kicked to and fro in Westminster yesterday, all hinged upon.
The now former manager of the England woman’s football team Mark Sampson told Aluko he hoped her Nigerian relatives wouldn’t being Ebola with them if they came to the country.
A stupid, tasteless, crass remark without any doubt. But malicious? Potentially, yes, but probably not. Any doubt could have been cleared up by routinely challenging Sampson over what he meant.
That surely is the nub of this matter. Why, oh why, could a playground-style insult not have been settled in the playground? If Sampson had been rightly challenged, surely he would have seen sense and apologise for any offence, probably unintentionally, caused?
Now I have no great sympathy for the FA. We all know it is staffed by stuffy men totally out of touch with the real world and that well intentioned folk have been tearing their hair out for decades in a vain attempt to reform it.
Large organisations, almost without exception, are always prone to damage limitation, or cover-ups if you prefer.
That’s what happened here.
I don’t accept for one moment, however, that they discriminated against Aluko by not including her in subsequent England teams.
Once it became clear she was in dispute with the manager she became unselectable.
You don’t go onto a football field with ten players supporting the manager and one with a major grievance. That would be madness. Either the manager has to go or the player.
The FA subsequently found their own way out of the controversy – something that happens in most offices throughout the country.
They wanted Sampson out to ease their embarrassment but couldn’t act on Aluko’s allegation as that would have led to a whole heap more of potential trouble.
So they got out the history books and did some digging. And, in all honesty, they found something far more serious than the verbal clash with Aluko.
Sampson had a relationship with one of his players whilst in charge of the Bristol Academy, his job before taking on England.
Whilst nothing criminal took place, this was an obvious safeguarding issue and an enormous lapse of judgement.
Had they known this had happened, they shouldn’t have employed Sampson in the first place.
Yet it is almost inconceivable that they didn’t. Even if they hadn’t got the written evidence on their desk, the issue would have been hot news on the verbal grapevine.
Should Sampson now be able to prove his past was known about before he took the job, he will surely win his appeal against wrongful dismissal and heads will then have to roll at the FA.
In the meantime, however, Aluko, whilst publicly claiming she was justified by yesterday’s proceedings, should reflect on the self-inflicted damage she has done to her professional career.
By taking a crass remark and making into such a major issue, she has put herself through hell, losing England caps and much of her reputation into the bargain.
Her friends and colleagues will no doubt back her privately. But will they trust her in future? I doubt it….
Had she been dropped by England as a result of her colour and been able to prove it, her case would have been thoroughly worthwhile – justifying yesterday’s scrutiny.
That would indicate the FA, for all its other faults, was indeed guilty of ‘institutional racism’.
But none of that happened.
In an era when we are discovering young footballers have been sexually abused by coaches and have carried the scars for the rest of their lives, this episode was indeed, in comparison, mere ‘fluff’ to quote an embattled FA official.