30-year-old Footballer Eniola Aluko has spoken publicly for the first time about the bullying, harassment and discrimination she says she was subjected to by England head coach Mark Sampson.
In her first broadcast interview since details of the controversy emerged earlier this month, she told the BBC she was dropped by England just days after she reported Sampson of discrimination despite her being the top goalscorer in last seasons Womens Super League
She added that Sampson made a racist comment about her family in Nigeria being infected with the Ebola virus that left her shocked and intimidated. A report the FA said arose informally and was not included in her complaint which implies Samson was cleared of any wrongdoing.
The FA also insisted her claims of being dropped by the National team was purely coincidental and that all evidence given to the review remained confidential and anonymous.
After the incidence, the Football body reportedly gave her around 80,000 to avoid the threat of an employment tribunal which may disrupt the squads preparation for the Euro 2017. An offer they insisted was an attempt to avoid disclosure and not to keep Aluko from discussing the facts of the case.
Aluko explained she accepted the money as it equated to what she would have expected to receive had she successfully argued her case at an employment tribunal. She says she had initially lodged a claim and was advised by her lawyer that she had a very good case, but a settlement ensured the confidentiality she had always intended to retain.
She also denied that the payment was to stop her speaking out, explaining: I did not settle to avoid disruption to the European Championships, I settled on the basis of what I felt I would have achieved at a tribunal.
Aluko says she is speaking out now because there are a lot of half-truths out in the public and its in the public interest to understand the severity of the case.
She added that it wasnt a bitter, impassioned revenge at the England manager but her experience may have deterred other players from raising concerns in the future.
If anybody, God forbid, was going through something difficult in the team right now, would they speak out? Judging on whats happened to me over the past few weeks, I dont think they would, she said.
That is the most damaging thing about this because if you think of a young player, for instance, who wants to play for England in the future lets say a young black player shes going to look at this and go: If anything ever happens to me, what happened to Eni Aluko? I cant say anything. That to me is the most heartbreaking thing.