11 June 2020

Nikita Parris apologises to former England team-mate Eniola Aluko for ‘solidarity’ with Mark Sampson during ‘discrimination accusations’

Lioness Nikita Parris has apologised to her former team-mate Eniola Aluko for her ’solidarity’ with ex-England manager Mark Sampson.

Parris celebrated with Sampson in 2017 after England scored against Russia in a World Cup qualifier. At the time he had already been accused of making racially discriminatory remarks towards Aluko and Drew Spence.

Parris made her apology in an open letter posted on Twitter: "Eni, I am sorry that my thoughtless actions caused you hurt.

"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.

"I am now able to understand how I have been part of the problem which I aim to fight and eradicate.

"I am a proud black woman, I understand I have a social responsibility to help create change through my platform."

Sampson was later found to have made unacceptable remarks towards Aluko and Spence.

England team, including Parris, celebrate with then manager Sampson at a qualifier (PA)

Parris said the current climate had made her do ’some real reflecting internally’.

She added the celebratory hug with Sampson in 2017 was disrespectful towards Aluko.

"I think it was naive and perhaps wasn't the best thing to do for the players.

"Some of them may have a special relationship with Mark Sampson and they have every right [to celebrate with him], but I think about the sensitivity at that time, and it wasn't respectful."

Sampson was sacked by the Football Association the day after Parris celebrated with him because of ’inappropriate and unacceptable’ behaviour at his previous post as Bristol City manager.

Aluko won the last of her 102 caps for England in 2016 - the same year she spoke out against Sansom.

She retired from the game entirely in January of this year and is now a sporting director at Aston Villa Women.

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