Remember the story from September about the England woman’s football coach being sacked after a string of allegations of racism coming mainly from one person, Nigerian-born Eniola Aluko?
Well, here’s the latest:
After three inquiries, former England manager Mark Sampson was found to have used discriminatory language to two players – Aluko and Drew Spence.
The Football Association has since apologised for its handling of the case, adding there was “much to learn from this episode”.
But England striker 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.
Why, it’s almost as if having a player accusing the coach of racism, pocketing £80,000 in settlement monies, then continuing with the complaint resulting in his sacking is detrimental to team spirit! I yearn for the day when the field of sports psychology is mature enough to properly understand these things.
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.
I’m going to go out on a limb here, but maybe her teammates don’t have grievances, and if they do, they sort them out among themselves.
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.
The problem isn’t one troublemaking individual, it’s everyone else.
She believes they need to adopt the policy of other international teams, who have fought equality issues as a “collective voice”.
Players should be forced to show solidarity.
She 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.
That race card is being waved with more enthusiasm than any English flag spotted at a woman’s football match.
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.
And there was me thinking teamwork was about putting the collective interests before your own petty grievances. Incidentally:
She chose to remain loyal to the English coaches who had given her the opportunity to play international football, but said: “The main thing for me is for people to understand that choosing to play for England doesn’t mean that I don’t support Nigeria. I’m as much Nigerian as I’m British. Of course Nigeria means a lot to me, it’s part of me, but I’ve been brought up by English coaches.”
Presumably the English coaches were easier to manipulate, shake down, and get fired.
Aluko has regrets about things she has said throughout the process, and apologised for criticising the players on Twitter when they ran over to celebrate with Sampson during the game against Russia.
“I think [the celebration] was naive and perhaps wasn’t the best thing to do for the players,” she said. “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.
Me me me me me me me! Five seconds later:
“We need to look at other examples and ask why this isn’t happening with a team ranked third in the world. Is the togetherness we keep banging on about actually being put into action or is it just a hashtag on Twitter?
“I’m not encouraging further discord between me and the players, not that I think there is any discord. As far as I’m concerned, last time I was in the team, everything was fine and nobody had any issues.
“So if anybody has any issues, they need to have specific examples, because what I’m not going to have are insinuations or stereotypes or perceptions to almost excuse what I’ve been through, because it doesn’t excuse it.”
Now it’s generally true that footballers aren’t very bright which could explain such a lack of self-awareness, but this woman has ambitions of becoming a lawyer:
She subsequently went to study Law at Brunel University, where she graduated with a First class degree in 2008. In July 2009 it was announced that Aluko would spend the 2009–10 US off-season studying for the New York bar exam before taking a similar exam in England, her aim being to have an entertainment law practice in both England and the United States.
So she’s not stupid, just highly manipulative and prepared to say absolutely anything to further her own interests. The sooner she gets out of football and into the legal profession where she’d be quite at home, the better for everyone.