Eni Aluko ‘genuinely scared’ after online abuse

Eni Aluko
Eni Aluko said in a video posted on social media that online abuse also has a “huge impact on mental health”

Former England footballer Eni Aluko says she has “genuinely been scared” after receiving online abuse.

Her comments come after ex-footballer Joey Barton compared Aluko, who is now a pundit, and co-commentator Lucy Ward to serial killers Fred and Rose West.

ITV criticised the “vindictive remarks”, while sports minister Stuart Andrew said the “dangerous comments open the floodgates for abuse”.

“I felt under threat this week,” Aluko said on Instagram.

The 36-year-old posted two emotional videos on the social media platform on Tuesday evening.

“I’m human, and I’m more than happy to admit I’ve been scared this week” she said.

“I’ve genuinely been scared. I didn’t leave my house until Friday, and I’m now abroad, because it’s really important to say that online abuse has a direct impact on your safety and how you feel, and how safe you feel in real life.

“I felt like something was going to happen to me. And I don’t say that for anyone to feel sorry for me, I say that for people to understand the reality and the impact that hate speech has; the impact that racism has; the impact that sexism and misogyny has on all of us females in the game.”

Aluko added that her experience was “not an isolated incident” and that such abuse is “showing up as a culture in the game, from certain fanbases and certain people”.

“They’re creating a culture where people don’t want to go to work, people don’t want to leave their house, people feel under threat. Obviously there’s a big impact on mental health as well,” she said.

Since last month, Barton – who was sacked as Bristol Rovers manager in October – has repeatedly used social media to criticise women working in men’s football, and his comments have been widely condemned.

In response to a now-deleted video clip of Aluko’s pre-match punditry posted by ITV Football on X, the former Manchester City and QPR midfielder compared her and Ward to “the Fred and Rose West of football commentary”.

In a statement, ITV said: “For Joey Barton, an ex-professional player with a significant social media presence, to target two of our pundits, Eni Aluko and Lucy Ward, with such vindictive remarks based on gender and to invoke the names of serial killers in doing so is clearly contemptible and shameful on his part.”

Former Chelsea and Juventus forward Aluko won more than 100 England caps before retiring in 2020.

“Over the past week, I have taken advice from lawyers and a course of action has now been decided on,” she added.

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