Former England international Eni Aluko has “acknowledged and accepted” an apology offered by her ex-teammate Nikita Parris, and believes that their ability to leave the incident surrounding a celebration with Mark Sampson in the past shows that “black women should always strive for unity, not division”.
Aluko accused former England boss Sampson of ‘bullying and discrimination’ in August 2017, which culminated in her international career being ended in the process as she was never selected for the Lionesses again.
A month later, Parris scored in England’s World Cup qualifier with Russia and led her teammates towards Sampson to celebrate with their manager in what was a clear show of faith. Sampson would go on to lose his job before the end of the year due to evidence of “inappropriate and unacceptable” behaviour with female players during a previous spell in charge of Bristol Academy.
The fallout saw Aluko outcast from the national team and her former teammates, though Sampson’s dismissal went a long way to solidifying Aluko’s account – she was also supported in her allegations by fellow international Lianne Sanderson.
Sampson was initially cleared of wrongdoing, but a subsequent investigation found he had used racially discriminatory comments and he apologised for his actions, as did the Football Association.
Following the prominence of the Black Lives Matter movement in recent weeks, Parris was swayed into issuing an apology to Aluko for the controversial celebration, which appears to have been accepted and the incident finally put behind them.
“Although I’m yet to speak with Nikita, I acknowledge and accept this apology. Thanks,” Aluko, the current director of women’s football at Aston Villa, wrote on Twitter in response to Parris’s open letter.
“After a very difficult moment 3 years ago, I moved on and appreciate the self reflection for Nikita to move on too. Most importantly, black women should always strive for unity not division.”
She added: “During the current climate, Nikita leads the way for the England women’s football team in acknowledging and addressing past individual and collective actions with regards to racism.”
In a post published earlier in the week, Parris said: “A few years ago in what was meant to be an example of solidarity I caused a division and didn’t consider objectively how my actions could have affected others.
“During a very sensitive time where it would have mattered most, my actions left specific fellow professionals feeling alone and segregated. At the time I focused more on what I believed was showing unity when really it did nothing of the sort, it showed a lack of empathy, understanding and ignorance by singling out a voice who needed an ear to listen and a support system to help.
“Eni, I am sorry that my thoughtless actions caused you hurt, never is it in my conscious intentions to make another human feel devalued.
“I am a proud black woman, I understand I have a social responsibility to help create change through my platform.”