Former Arsenal forward Lianne Sanderson says she doesn’t expect to be selected for England anymore after defending teammate Eni Aluko.
Eni Aluko accused the manager of the England women’s team, Mark Sampson, of bullying and discrimination. And after Sanderson spoke out to support Aluko, she is now worried for the future of her international career.
With 15 goals in 50 appearances for her country, Sanderson has given a lot for the Lionesses. But speaking to the BBC, she said: “When I come back from my injury, which will be soon, I’ll be able to be selected for England again.
“Will I be selected? Probably not, because they know I’m a key witness in this thing. You’re trying to do the right thing but that shouldn’t mean that your England career suffers because of that.
“If they changed the coach, it wouldn’t change the culture. I do think it’s a thing the FA need to make better. I don’t think it’s just Mark. But these allegations that have been made are very serious and I think they have tried to downplay them.”
Although Sampson has been cleared of wrongdoing by investigations in the past, the shadow sports minister Dr Rosena Allin-Khan has called for a new investigation, saying that Aluko’s claims are “deeply worrying”, following Eni’s most recent statements on the matter.
Sanderson spent 11 years at Arsenal during her first spell with the club and made a brief return to the team in 2014, but only remained for eight months. Overall she won five league titles, four FA Women’s Cups, two FA Women’s Premier League Cups, two Community Shields and a UEFA Women’s Cup with the Gunners.
It would be a big shame if a player with such a successful career had her time on the international stage cut short because she stood up for someone who claims to have been bullied and discriminated against. That feels like the sort of action we should be praising, not punishing.