Eniola Aluko said she felt "vindicated" after an investigation concluded former England women's manager Mark Sampson made remarks which were "discriminatory on grounds of race" towards her and team-mate Drew Spence.

And the striker claimed the English Football Association had an agenda to protect Sampson and its own reputation during her evidence to a sport governance inquiry.

Independent barrister Katharine Newton concluded in her final report that Sampson - previously cleared twice over the allegations - was not racist, but that he had made "ill-judged attempts at humour" towards the players.

Aluko, giving evidence to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee, said: "I feel vindicated and relieved.

"Although I'm grateful to be here today, does it have to come to this?

"There's been an agenda to protect Mark Sampson, and an agenda to protect the FA's reputation."
 

Eniola Aluko in action for England

In a damning submission, Aluko also alleged that England goalkeeping coach Lee Kendall spoke to her in a fake Caribbean accent.

She claimed the FA was "dismissive" when she first made her allegation that Sampson had told her to make sure her Nigerian relatives did not bring the Ebola virus to the friendly against Germany at Wembley in November 2014.

Sampson denied that claim, along with another allegation that he asked a mixed-race player - Spence - if she had been arrested before, and then jokingly suggested she had been arrested four times.

"They were very keen to say there was no wrongdoing without looking at the video evidence," Aluko said.

"They were dismissive straight away in the first meeting. We didn't speak about specific itemised issues."

Aluko, who has not been picked for England since making the allegations, went on to question whether a similar complaint from a male player would have received the same response.

She said she was "astonished" at an email from FA chairman Greg Clarke, in reply to a document about the incident from the PFA, which read: "I've no idea why you are sending me this. Perhaps you could enlighten me?'

Aluko added: "I actually felt sending it to the FA chairman would lead to a better process. But it was the opposite.

"If it's the FA chairman disrespectfully dismissing the complaint, I have nowhere to go. The last resort is to go the employment tribunal.

"A male player with 102 caps, Wayne Rooney, if they were to send a complaint like that, would he respond like that?"

FA chief executive Martin Glenn has "sincerely apologised" to Aluko and Spence over Sampson's remarks.

The FA decided to pay Aluko an £80,000 settlement, but she revealed that she refused to put out a statement saying the FA was not "institutionally racist" in order to receive part of the payment.

"Martin Glenn said if I wrote a statement he would release the second tranche of the money. I felt that was bordering on blackmail," she said. "I categorically refused to write it. It's not for me to come up with that determination.

"I would never say the FA are institutionally racist. My comments were based on comments to me and Drew Spence and how they handled that.

"For Martin Glenn to say I should say that in order to get a payment I was contractually agreed to is appalling."

Sampson was sacked last month after FA chiefs were alerted to what it termed an "inappropriate" relationship he had with a player in his previous job in 2013.