Nigerian-born England female international, EniolaAluko says she has had no support from most of her teammates since she ignited a racial abuse case and questioned whether the squad’s much-flaunted togetherness was just a hashtag on social media.
After three inquiries, former England manager Mark Sampson was found to have used discriminatory language to two players – Aluko and Drew Spence
England’s Football Association has since apologised for its handling of the case, adding there was “much to learn from this episode”.
Aluko, who has won 102 caps and lost her place in the team after making unproven allegations of bullying in a 2016 FA cultural review, says she has had no communication from her international team-mates, except for those she plays with at Chelsea.
This is despite the 30-year-old believing England players may “benefit” from improvements to the Football Association’s grievance process resulting from the case.
Aluko has previously criticised the England players for running over to celebrate a goal with Sampson during their World Cup qualifier against Russia, which proved to be the 35-year-old’s last game in charge.
She believes they need to adopt the policy of other international teams, who have fought equality issues as a “collective voice”.
In her first interview since contributing to the Digital, Cultural, Media and Sport inquiry into FA governance at Westminster last month, Aluko told BBC Sport she was “proud the truth has been corroborated”, but is keen to draw a line under a “stormy” episode and is open to helping the FA to improve its culture and grievance process.
She also said: “Players might have reacted differently if homophobic comments were made. England players need to learn the meaning of real “togetherness” from their international peers. They should elaborate on suggestions she is not a team player.
“She is sorry for some of her tweets directed at England players when they celebrated with Sampson. The “time has come” for Sampson to show humility – but she does not need an apology from him. Playing for England is “not a priority” right now. Would there have been a different response if homophobic statements were made?”
England players have largely been silent in public since the FA apologised to Aluko, who also told BBC Sport: “Would there have been a different response if homophobic statements were made to players? I think there would be.
“Some of this is just a lack of appreciation of what racism is. A lot of this is, ‘it hasn’t happened to me, I can’t relate to that, so I’m not going to comment’. That, to me, can’t be a team.
“I’ve got to be able to put myself in your shoes and say, ‘even though I can’t understand what it may feel like, I’m going to try and understand and I’m going to support you regardless’. That is a team.
“So a lot of the stuff moving forward needs to be perhaps diversity training, collective conversations, difficult conversations. A lot has to happen, but we can look at other examples around the world and say we can do much better.”