Also in today’s roundup, Ashlyn Harris expected to be available this weekend, UEFA announces EURO 2017 Best XI, and 2017-2018 FA WSL schedules released.
The FA, Eniola Aluko settle over bullying, harassment complaints
The Daily Mail first reported today that the FA and former England striker Eniola Aluko had settled a dispute over the 30-year-old striker’s complaints of “bullying and harassment” by Mark Sampson and his staff.
Aluko, who has 102 caps and 33 goals for the Lionesses, has not played for England since April 2016, claiming she quit the national team because of bullying and harassment. In an eight-page complaint, she detailed two years’ worth of allegations that coincided with Sampson’s hiring. The complaint included seven specific incidents in what she calls a “non-exhaustive” list against Sampson and his staff, whom she claimed would “undermine and belittle” players on England’s national team.
“It is inevitable that such damaging behaviour…has influenced…staff and teammates to be empowered to also attempt to undermine and belittle. I submit that this is the basis of a culture of bullying and harassment,” Aluko wrote in her complaint.
“I am concerned that this culture of behaviour could be extended to current players or England players in the future.”
The FA completed an internal review and independent investigation into the matter back in March and reportedly found no wrongdoing on Sampson’s or his staff’s part, but still agreed upon a settlement with Aluko. According to the Daily Mail, that settlement included a new £20,000 contract with England and a £40,000 confidentiality agreement. If the Daily Mail’s numbers are correct—the BBC is reporting the figure is actually higher—the settlement is worth over $78,000 U.S. dollars.
According to the FA’s statement on the matter, the confidentiality agreement was a means of preventing disruption during the European Championship, which England was eliminated from in the semifinal round, rather than an attempt at silencing Aluko.
“The detailed independent investigation report did not uphold any of Eniola Aluko’s complaints and found no wrongdoing on behalf of The FA or others,” the FA said in an official statement on the matter.
“A complaint was made in 2016 and Eniola Aluko is not precluded from speaking about the facts of that complaint. Notwithstanding the independent investigation’s findings, the FA agreed a mutual resolution so as to avoid disruption to the squad’s tournament preparations. It was not to prevent disclosure.”
Eyebrows were raised when Aluko, who was top scorer in the FA WSL last season with Chelsea, was not named to Sampson’s 23-player EURO squad. That is at least partly because Aluko told the FA that, despite the new contract, she would not return to play under Sampson. Aluko has also claimed in the past that rosters are determined off of popularity, not player form. Instead she spent the tournament as a commentator alongside Kim Little and Heather O’Reilly for Channel 4.
For England, she was a part of the 2012 Great Britain Olympic squad and a member of Sampson’s 2015 World Cup team that took home bronze. She also made history when she became the first female pundit on BBC One’s Match of the Day.
Ashlyn Harris expected to be available Saturday
According to Tom Sermanni, goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris is expected to be ready to return to playing for the Orlando Pride this Saturday, as reported by New Day Review.
Although Harris will likely be available for the Pride this weekend, it is unclear whether she will play. When The Equalizer reached out to Sermanni for confirmation, he simply replied that the team was “not rushing Harris back.”
Harris has been unavailable for both Orlando and the USWNT since exiting the Pride’s May 21st match in Seattle with a quadriceps injury. In approximately the 25th minute of that match, which the two teams split in a 1-1 draw, Harris grabbed her right hip immediately after taking a goal kick and fell to her knees. She was substituted out of the game and replaced by Caroline Stanley, signed to the team ahead of the match after backup keeper Aubrey Bledsoe was sidelined by a concussion. Before the injury, Harris had played every minute of the 2017 Pride season.
The Pride continues a three-game home stretch tomorrow night against the Washington Spirit (which Harris will not be available for) before closing out its 2017 series against Sky Blue FC on Saturday at Orlando City Stadium.
UEFA announces EURO 2017 Best XI
Following the conclusion of the 2017 European Championship, UEFA has announced the tournament’s official Best XI. Unsurprisingly, tournament champions the Netherlands boast five players on the list in goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal, defender Anouk Dekker and midfielders Jackie Groenen, Lieke Martens and Sherida Spitse.
Runners-up Denmark had two players included in the team of the tournament, midfielder Theresa Nielsen and forward Pernille Harder, both of whom had been named Player of the Match for previous tournament games.
Despite being eliminated in the semifinal round, England has the second most players included with three: defenders Lucy Bronze and Steph Houghton and forward Jodie Taylor. Taylor’s five goals during the tournament also earned her the Golden Boot award, while Vivianne Miedema earned the Silver Boot (4 goals), while her Netherlands teammate Lieke Martens earned the Bronze Boot (3 goals).
Martens, the only player to win multiple Player of the Match awards during EURO 2017, was also named the Player of the Tournament.
2017 European Championship Best XI:
Goalkeeper: Sari van Veenendaal (Netherlands)
Defenders: Lucy Bronze (England), Anouk Dekker (Netherlands), Steph Hougton (England), Verena Aschauer (Austria)
Midfielders: Theresa Nielsen (Denmark), Jackie Groenen (Netherlands), Sherida Spitse (Netherlands), Lieke Martens (Netherlands)
Forwards: Pernille Harder (Denmark), Jodie Taylor (England)
FA WSL releases complete 2017-2018 schedule
England’s FA Women’s Super League has released its complete 2017-2018 schedules less than two months before both the FA WSL 1 and 2 kick off on September 24. The regular season concludes on May 20, 2018.
The opening week of FA WSL 1 action kicks off with a rematch of the 2017 FA Cup quarterfinal round between Arsenal and Birmingham City, during which the Cup holders were eliminated from the tournament by City, eventually defeated by Manchester City in the final. Chelsea opens its new season by hosting Bristol City, while Everton will play its first FA WSL 1 match against Liverpool Ladies, home of such players as England goalkeeper Siobhan Chamberlain and Netherlands forward Shanice van de Sanden. Everton was promoted to FA WSL 1 in the wake of Notts County folding its women’s team just two days before the 2017 spring series was to start.
Week 2 includes one of the most exciting match-ups of the season when Manchester City host Arsenal on Sunday, October 2. American fans interested in watching Crystal Dunn and Heather O’Reilly face off will have to wait until January when Chelsea and Arsenal meet for the first time on the 7th.
Although many FA WSL matches are not available for viewing outside of England, some teams do stream matches on various platforms. In the past Man City have streamed their games via their Facebook page, while a subscription to Chelsea TV gives fans access to a number of Chelsea’s home and even some away games. Other games are occasionally streamed live via BBC, although those streams are often geoblocked.
The full FA WSL 1 and 2 schedules can be found here.