Nikita Parris Opens Up on Public Apology to Eni Aluko & Mission as Black Player

Nov 28, 2020, 1:00 PM GMT
Nikita Parris
Parris has opened up on her apology to Aluko | TF-Images/Getty Images

Nikita Parris has opened up on her apology to former teammate Eni Aluko following her public show of support towards ex-England manager Mark Sampson in 2017.

Parris celebrated her opening goal in the Lionesses' 6-0 win over Russia in September 2017 by running over to the dugout to embrace Sampson, who at the time was facing allegations of racial discrimination and bullying towards Aluko.

Nikita Parris, Mark Sampson
Parris led team celebrations in a show of solidarity towards Sampson | Alex Livesey/Getty Images

An inquiry in October 2017 found Sampson had, on the balance of probability, made racially discriminatory remarks towards Aluko and Chelsea midfielder Drew Spence.

Parris released a public apology in June 2020, stating: "I take full responsibility in my part. Eni, I am sorry that my thoughtless actions caused you hurt."

Speaking as part of the FA and Facebook’s Black, England and Proud series, Parris admitted she felt an apology was the best way to positively influence future generations.

"I felt I had the responsibility to address it," the Lyon forward said. "Because it's been too long. I'll take full responsibility in the fact that I thought if I don't address it, it will go away. It doesn't go away.

"I had a lot of time to look in the mirror and reflect on myself: how can you change? How can you make a change today that will reflect future generations to make change.

"For me it was looking in the mirror and accepting I made mistakes in 2017.

"When I was younger I was like 'I'm playing football, I'm playing for England, I'm doing well.' But you never really understand how your actions affect so many people.

"I've made mistakes, but the mistakes I've made it wasn't intentional mistakes to hurt someone or to disappoint. But I feel the response to mistakes I've made, I literally ruined a community. I felt I really affected people."

Parris was in discussion with Kerry Davis - the Lionesses' second all-time top goal scorer and the first black female to play for England.

"I remember that situation," said Davis. "When I saw you celebrate I was like 'ooh'.

"The black community, it does stick together. It is important that we're role models within that because whatever anybody says, we do get judged more.

"The fact that you apologised, I thought: 'Well done Nikita'. It's important."

With a trend towards girls' academies moving into more rural areas, the increasing white, middle-class nature of women's football has become a hot topic.

Carly Telford, Lucy Bronze, Keira Walsh, Steph Houghton, Millie Bright, Nikita Parris, Jill Scott, Demi Stokes, Rachel Daly, Ellen White, Beth Mead
Parris addressed the lack of diversity in the women's game | Zhizhao Wu/Getty Images

Parris was one of just two players from black heritage in England's 2019 World Cup squad - alongside Manchester City full-back Demi Stokes - and is making it her mission to increase visibility and diversity during her playing career.

"When a young woman or young girl in the BAME community looks at the TV and says: 'There's only two players that represent me on the field', it's probably a discouragement to be honest," added Parris.

"For me, I feel if there's one thing I want to make a change of while I'm here: it's that. It's to make sure that young people feel like they belong here, they can make it here and they can be very successful here.".