England player apologises to teammate for celebration with manager sacked for racist remarks

Luke Bradshaw
Sports Writer
Nikita Parris of England (Photo: VI Images/Getty Images)

England winger Nikita Parris apologised to former teammate Eniola Aluko on Wednesday for her public display of support to former England coach Mark Sampson.

The moment occurred when Parris scored for England against Russia during a match in 2017. Sampson had been accused of racially abusing Aluko and another player, Drew Spence, but Parris ran to Sampson and celebrated the goal with her boss.

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An inquiry into Sampson’s comments at the time ruled that he was guilty and was sacked from his position a day after Parris’ celebration.

Parris, who plays for Lyon in France, wrote an open letter to Aluko and posted it on her twitter page. It read: "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."

Eni Aluko. (Photo: Robin Jones/Getty Images)

Immediately after the incident, Aluko called the celebration “naive”. She also 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."

The FA sacked Sampson for what they described as “clear evidence of inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour by a coach".

England manager Mark Sampson. (Photo: Nick Potts/Getty Images)

They also apologised to Aluko and Spence, ruling that Sampson “made comments that were "discriminatory on the grounds of race".

After England, Sampson went on to coach at League Two club Stevenage in July 2019. In September he was accused of using racist language in a coaches’ meeting. He was charged by the FA in November of that year, but in January 2020 that charge was dismissed out of court with an FA independent commission dismissing the claim.