England's Nikita Parris apologises to Eni Aluko over Mark Sampson support

June 10, 2020

Nikita Parris has apologised to Eni Aluko for showing support for former England Women boss Mark Sampson in 2017.

Sampson was at the centre of discrimination allegations made by then Chelsea and England striker Aluko. He was initially cleared but the FA later apologised to Aluko and team-mate Drew Spence for racially discriminatory remarks made by Sampson.

At Sampson's final game in charge, a 6-0 win over Russia in September 2017, every member of the starting XI raced to the bench to celebrate with the manager after Parris' opening goal.

Former England player Lianne Sanderson says the celebration still makes her "sick to her stomach".

Lyon forward Parris has now offered a heartfelt apology to her former England team-mate Aluko.

Posting an open letter on Twitter, Parris said: "In order to grow we must have difficult conversations with ourselves and each other to understand where we have gone wrong for so long.

"During a very sensitive time where it would have mattered most, my actions left specific fellow professionals feeling alone and segregated.

"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.

"After a lot of growth, maturity and education I am now able to understand how I have been part of the problem which I aim to fight and eradicate'

"Eni, I am sorry that my thoughtless actions caused you hurt, never is it in my conscious intentions to make another human feel devalued."

'They don't realise how much that hurt'

Speaking exclusively to Sky Sports News' The Football Show about her experiences of racism in the game, Sanderson said: "Everyone knows what Eniola Aluko went through and that wasn't a nice moment for anyone.

"The players scored and they celebrated with Mark Sampson and that still makes me sick to my stomach to think about now.

"I don't think the girls realised how much that hurt myself, Eni and Anita [Asante]. It almost became them against us when it didn't need to be that way.

"I definitely think the girls could have done more in that situation. I don't hold it against them but this comes down to enabling. Those girls didn't think they'd be picked again if they went against him.

"After a few conversations with the players, they say they didn't really know what was going on."

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