Nikita Parris has apologised to Eni Aluko for the moment in September 2017 when she led her team-mates in a controversial race to embrace former England women’s manager Mark Sampson.
Parris had just scored the first goal in a 6-0 win against Russia at Tranmere’s Prenton in what would prove Sampson’s last game in charge. By then Aluko, a former England striker, had made allegations of racism and bullying against an outgoing coach popular with the majority of his players and Parris’s gesture both hurt her deeply and divided public opinion.
On Wednesday night the Lyon striker posted an open apology to her one time fellow Lioness on twitter. “I take full responsibility in my part, Eni,” wrote Parris. “I am sorry that my thoughtless actions caused you hurt, never is it in my conscious intentions to make another human being feel devalued.”
Sampson, currently Stevenage’s assistant manager, was subsequently sacked by the Football Association for an unrelated matter and later won a significant unfair dismissal settlement. A separate inquiry into Aluko’s allegations found that, on the balance of probability, he had made racially discriminatory remarks to Aluko and her fellow former England player Drew Spence in the form of ill-judged jokes but the inquiry emphasised it was not concluding Sampson is/was a racist.
“A few years ago in what was meant to be an example of solidarity I caused a division,” conceded Parris. “I didn’t consider objectively how my actions could have affected others. At the time I focused more on what I believed was showing unity when, in reality, it did nothing of the sort. It showed a lot of understanding, empathy and ignorance by singling out a voice who needed an ear to listen and a support system to help.
“I’m aware this should have been addressed sooner and it’s not about clearing my name but acknowledging that we can’t just cover up our wrongs with good intentions and “hope” people understand.”
The former Manchester City striker continued in similar vein. “After a lot of growth, maturity and education I am now able to understand how I am part of the problem which I aim to fight and eradicate,” wrote Parris. “In order to grow we must have difficult conversations with ourselves to understand where we have gone wrong for so long.
“During the current climate and state of the world I’ve been doing some real reflecting internally. I am a proud black woman. I understand I have a social responsibility to help create change.”