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Aluko calls for greater protection against misogyny in football

Please credit: Matthew Dickens/BeatMedia The Women in Football, Be Inspired Conference (Matthew Dickens/BeatMedia)

By Megan Armitage, Sportsbeat

Former Lioness Eni Aluko is calling for new framework to be put in place to cut out sexism and misogyny in football.

Over recent weeks, the 37-year-old has been the subject of digital abuse by former footballer Joey Barton and his followers after he posted a series of tweets on the social media platform X, nullifying her credibility as a commentator because she's a woman.

The abuse was so harmful Aluko admitted that she felt she couldn't leave her house for fear of her own safety, a notion that she is opening up about in hopes of finding a solution to digital abuse.

"Recently, Joey Barton has been attacking lots of female pundits in football," she said, speaking at the Women In Football Be Inspired Conference in partnership with Barclays.

"He specifically targeted me with over 11 tweets and was attacking my ability to do my job and saying that I'm a tick box hire whilst likening me to some of the worst serial killers in history.

"He has a lot of followers so then a lot of people pile on and it becomes an 'incitement of hatred' which causes real life harm because I don't feel safe.

"So I've been speaking about how we make sure there is a framework in place to deal with sexism and misogyny and has real life impact on people.

"If I was subject to physical abuse everyday of my life then I would call the police and they would arrest that person, but that doesn't happen with digital abuse which actually has the same harm.

"We need to close the gap to create consequences for that behaviour."

Aluko was invited to be a speaker on a panel entitled 'The Uncomfortable Truth About Misogyny in the Game' at the recent Women In Football Be Inspired Conference in partnership with Barclays.

The two-day event at Wembley Stadium was attended by approximately 800, with Aluko opening up about the intersectionality of the abuse she has received as a black woman in football.

The former Chelsea player put forward her views on how the game needs to learn from the framework behind stamping out racism in football to provide a similar policy for sexist and misogynistic comments.

"There's issues about being a woman and then there's issues about being black and the two often go hand in hand," she said.

"I think the frameworks around racism have developed more than they have around sexism and misogyny.

"If you are racist in a football stadium in 2024, the likelihood of you getting a lifetime ban is very high with self policing from fans.

"The same now needs to be done for sexism and misogyny in football to make progress."