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Gordon Taylor accuses FA chairman Greg Clarke of using ‘diversionary tactic’ with PFA attack :-: talkSPORT

Professional Footballers' Association chief executive Gordon Taylor has hit back at Football Association chairman Greg Clarke's claim the union is letting down survivors of abuse, saying it was a "diversionary tactic".

Clarke made the allegation during an astonishing exchange with MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee on Wednesday.

He was appearing before the committee with three other senior FA officials to answer questions about the governing body's handling of issues involving former England Women manager Mark Sampson.

Clarke was asked by MPs on the panel to explain a curt email he sent to the PFA last November when the union wrote to him and three other FA executives with details of allegations made by England striker Eni Aluko against Sampson.

The PFA document explained Aluko's case, providing what it called "incontrovertible evidence" that an internal FA review into her complaint was a "sham" and accused the governing body of sabotaging Aluko's long England career to protect Sampson.

Clarke replied by asking the sender: "I've no idea why you are sending me this. Perhaps you could enlighten me?"

Asked to explain his "dismissiveness" by MPs, Clarke admitted he was "abrupt" but said it was because he had already had several conversations with a senior PFA executive about it. He said the PFA was inadvertently "destroying his ability" to ensure good governance at the FA by "dragging" him into a matter for FA executives.

But having said he respected the PFA's work, Clarke said he would not "take any lessons on governance" from an organisation that pays its chief executive as much as the PFA does while not providing funding for counselling for survivors of football's child sex abuse scandal.

When asked to clarify this comment after the hearing, Clarke said he has been told the PFA has stopped paying for two survivors' treatment.

Taylor said: "It's false and untrue – to say we turned an abused player away is wrong. We've never turned anybody away, whether with problems of abuse, gambling or addiction. It might have been said in Parliament but it's blatantly untrue.

"Why on earth couldn't he raise it with me? It's classic diversionary tactics."

Taylor explained there has been one case of an abuse survivor reaching the limit of 24 PFA-funded sessions at the Sporting Chance clinic, as mental health specialists had believed that would be enough, but the union has stepped in to provide more sessions.

At the PFA's mental health and well-being conference last week, Sporting Chance boss Colin Bland said the union was paying for 75 survivors to receive counselling.

Former England and Manchester City star David White, who has spoken about his own experience of abuse as a young player, tweeted: "Clarke's view of how the PFA has looked after CSA survivors is a million miles removed from my own experience – they have been superb."

Damian Collins, chairman of the DCMS committee, said: "Greg Clarke is entitled to his view about the PFA but we weren't here to talk about the PFA."

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