Nikita Parris has apologised to Eni Aluko for leading the celebrations in September 2017 that acted as a show of support for former England manager Mark Sampson.
Parris opened the scoring in a 6-0 victory over Russia and ran over to embrace Sampson, who at the time was facing allegations of racial discrimination and bullying from former England striker Aluko.
An inquiry in October 2017 found Sampson had, on the balance of probability, made racially discriminatory remarks to Aluko and Chelsea midfielder Drew Spence
Taking to Twitter, Parris wrote: “I take full responsibility in my part. Eni, I am sorry that my thoughtless actions caused you hurt.
“At the time I focused more on what I believed was showing unity when really it did nothing of the sort, it showed a lack of empathy, understanding and ignorance by singling out a voice who needed an ear to listen and a support system to help.
“I’m aware this should have been addressed sooner and it’s not about clearing my name but acknowledging that we can’t just cover up our wrongs with good intentions and ‘hope’ people understand.
“I am now able to understand how I have been part of the problem which I aim to fight and eradicate. I am a proud black woman, I understand I have a social responsibility to help create change through my platform.”
Sampson was dismissed the day after the Russia victory due to ‘inappropriate and unacceptable’ behaviour with female players during his time in charge at Bristol City in 2014, but subsequently won an unfair dismissal settlement out of court.
The former Bristol City boss was a popular figure with the England players, with many of the squad joining in the celebrations that Parris had led.
Aluko was critical about the timing of her former teammates’ public display of solidarity, saying in November 2017 (via BBC Sport): “I think it was naive and perhaps wasn’t the best thing to do for the players.
“Some of them may have a special relationship with Mark Sampson and they have every right (to celebrate with him), but I think about the sensitivity at that time, and it wasn’t respectful.”