Eni Aluko has accused England women’s national team manager Mark Sampson of telling her to make sure her Nigerian relatives did not bring the Ebola virus to a game at Wembley stadium.
“In 2014 we had a big game against Germany. It was at Wembley and we had a big list of friends and family who would be coming to the game. I found myself next to Mark Sampson next to the board,” Aluko told the BBC.
“He asked me, ‘Who’s coming to watch the game for you?’. I said, ‘I’ve got family flying in from Nigeria’. And he said, ‘make sure they don’t come over with Ebola.”’
A visibly upset Aluko continued: “I laughed because I was in shock. I didn’t know what to say.
“Now I’ve been part of many dressing rooms. I’m used to industrial language, used to sometimes a bit of banter, a bit of a joke — but that was about my family coming to a game, and at the time, Ebola was a sensitive thing.
“He [Sampson] made that comment, and I have evidence of telling another player that it happened at the time.
“This evidence has been submitted to the Football Association. They chose to ignore it.”
The FA maintained, when contacted by Press Association Sport on Monday evening, that all of Aluko’s grievances were taken very seriously.
Asked if she believed it was a racist comment, Aluko replied: “Yes, I believe it was. I believe it was an unfavourable comment made to me that made me feel completely shocked and intimidated, that was said to me because I’m of African descent.
“I don’t know anybody else in the team who has been asked to make sure their family do not come over with Ebola.”
Aluko said she was speaking out now because there was “a lot of half-truths out in the public.”
Aluko won 102 caps and scored 33 goals for England before falling out of favour last year.
The striker, who was born in Nigeria and moved to England with her family as a young child.
She believes the evidence she gave at the confidential FA review cost her the opportunity to continue an international career.
In her interview with the Guardian, Aluko recalled a meeting with Sampson at Chelsea’s training ground when she was told about being dropped by England because of “un-lioness behaviour’.’
Aluko added: “I had been assured it was a confidential report and that my name would be anonymised so I could speak freely. I don’t think it [being dropped] is a coincidence. I believe it was retaliation.
“I had played for England for 11 years and, within a week or so of speaking to the FA to participate in the culture review, I had been dropped from the squad for the first time in my career.”