Former England forward Eni Aluko recently spoke out about the harrowing experience of receiving online abuse, shedding light on the darker side of the football world.
Aluko revealed that she felt genuinely scared and under threat, emphasizing the real-life impact of online abuse on an individual’s safety.
The incident occurred after ex-Manchester City midfielder Joey Barton made derogatory remarks about Aluko and co-commentator Lucy Ward, comparing them to notorious serial killers Fred and Rose West.
In emotional videos shared on Instagram, the 36-year-old Aluko expressed the fear and anxiety she experienced as a result of the online abuse.
She highlighted the direct link between online abuse and personal safety, explaining how it affected her daily life and compelled her to stay indoors.
Aluko’s brave admission underscores the need to recognize the genuine threats posed by hate speech, racism, and misogyny in the football community.
The toll on mental health, as she pointed out, is substantial, revealing the urgent need for action to address the toxic culture permeating certain fanbases and individuals within the sport.
Eni Aluko emphasized that her experience is not an isolated incident and suggested that such abuse is becoming ingrained in the culture of the game.
She spoke out against a rising trend where individuals feel threatened, reluctant to go to work, and even afraid to leave their homes due to the prevalence of online abuse.
The impact on mental health is profound, and the football community must confront and eradicate this toxic culture to ensure a safe and inclusive environment for everyone involved.
“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 said 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.
Joey Barton’s inflammatory comments have been widely condemned, not only by the public but also by media outlets and football organizations. Comparing Aluko and Ward to notorious criminals displayed a shocking lack of empathy and respect.
ITV, the broadcasting network on which the comments were made, criticized Barton’s “vindictive remarks,” and sports minister Stuart Andrew condemned the “dangerous comments” that open the floodgates for further abuse.
Barton’s stance on female pundits in the men’s game has fuelled a broader discussion about sexism within football, prompting a necessary revaluation of the sport’s culture.
In response to the abuse she faced, Eni Aluko revealed that she has sought legal advice and decided on a course of action.
The incident involving Joey Barton’s reprehensible comments serves as a stark reminder that the sport must confront and eliminate toxic cultures that perpetuate sexism, racism, and hate speech.
As Aluko takes legal action, the football world must rally behind her and work collectively to create a safe and inclusive environment for all, free from the scourge of online abuse.