Football pundit Eni Aluko flees UK 'feeling scared' after vile Joey Barton comments


Eni Aluko has revealed that she has left the country to escape online abuse in the aftermath of Joey Barton's vile verbal attack on the former England striker and fellow television pundit Lucy Ward. Aluko says she was frightened to leave her home after Barton's comments, which included describing her and Ward as "the Fred and Rose West of football commentary".

In an emotional 15-minute video message posted on social media, Aluko does not mention Barton by name but refers to him as the "loudest critic right now, who used to play for Manchester City". The 36-year-old accuses Barton of being sexist, racist, misogynistic, and of having a "violent history".

Aluko warned that general online abuse of women working in football was in danger of ending in tragedy, using the example of Caroline Flack's death to depict the repercussions of social media vitriol.

“Now, I’m open and honest and I’m human and I’m more than happy to admit: I’ve been scared this week. I’ve genuinely been scared this week,” Aluko said from an undisclosed location in a lengthy video message on Instagram.

“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’ve felt under threat this week. I’ve felt like something is 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 has. The impact that misogyny has on all of us females in the game, in sports broadcasting.

“That’s the real impact – and it’s not an isolated incident, this is now showing up as a culture in the game, from certain fan bases 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.”

Aluko, who Barton also likened to communist dictators Joseph Stalin and Pol Pot, suggested she was taking legal action.

The ex-Chelsea player added: “I’ve seen a lot of stuff mentioned this week around freedom of speech and people being entitled to their opinions and the reality is that our freedom of speech isn’t really free.

“If you come out and are racist, or sexist or misogynistic and threaten people online, there are laws for that and that govern that behaviour. It’s not free. It’s not freedom of consequences, either. There are consequences for that. And over the past week I’ve taken advice from lawyers and a course of action has now been decided upon.”

Barton has embarked on an increasingly-personal tirade against women working in sport broadcasting. ITV condemned the former midfielder after he likened Aluko and Ward, who had the night before worked on Crystal Palace's FA Cup draw with Everton, to the Wests.

The 41-year-old, who also played for Newcastle and has managed Bristol Rovers and Fleetwood Town, is facing government and legal action. Sports minister Stuart Andrew said he would "look at" what could be done in the aftermath of Barton's remarks.

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