Eni Aluko speaks out: Football is ‘not a safe space’ for women in the UK due to sexism and misogyny

Eni Aluko, the former England international, says football is “not a safe space” for women in this country because of sexism and misogyny.

Aluko – who said she feared for her safety when she left the house after social media attacks from Joey Barton – criticised the way women who show an interest in sport are treated by men.

Aluko, who won 102 England caps before becoming a TV pundit, has claimed she is a popular target for abusive comments because of her gender as well as the colour of her skin. But said she is more worried about the impact these abusive comments are having on the next generation of female fans and players.

“Men’s football in this country is still not a safe place for women,” Aluko told The Sports Agents podcast. “Whether you’re the wife of an average football fan who loves football or you’re me, who works in professional broadcasting, it’s not a safe space. It’s not a safe space physically going to a stadium and it’s not a safe space online.

“So when we look at the next generation of young girls who are alive to football because of the Lionesses and who likely want to get into football, whether they play or work behind the scenes, what would make them want to do that when there’s daily casual racism, sexism, misogyny toward the women at the top?

“I just refuse now to sit back and go ‘Oh, it’s part of the job,’ I can’t do that anymore. For me, I’m talking to government, how are we going to create laws so that this is not so easy.”

Barton, who was once lauded for his liberal views and has previously supported the LGBQT community as well as women’s football, has launched a series of online attacks against prominent female pundits, as well as players like England goalkeeper Mary Earps.

Having lost his job as manager of Bristol Rovers last year, the former Premier League midfielder has began a hostile campaign against women having any role in the men’s version of the game and appears to have found plenty of online admirers in doing so.

Football ‘the last bastion of a male-only space’

Aluko has already criticised X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, for not doing more to remove abusive users and posts.

After receiving support from ITV, with whom she regularly works as a pundit, Aluko revealed that she had taken legal action against Barton, while also claiming she left the UK due to being “genuinely scared” for her safety following his comments.

“It’s scary how easy it is on social media to just attack women,” she added. “Misogyny is not even a hate crime at this moment in time but there’s so much online.

“Unfortunately football is a sort of access point for a lot of that. I think it’s the last bastion of what people consider to be a male-only space.

“It has been for a long time a space where men have been able to express themselves freely without the gaze of women and all of this stuff.

“The reality is that football has always been for everyone and now women are becoming much more part of it but I feel the backlash is getting worse.”

2024-04-17 14:29:00
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