Eni Aluko opens up on being ‘treated like Pablo Escobar’
Eni Aluko says there were times she was “treated like Pablo Escobar” in Italy during her time with Juventus because of the colour of her skin.
The former England striker, who joined the Italian giants from Chelsea in June 2018, played her last game for the club against Fiorentina on November 30 after announcing her departure earlier in the month.
During her 18 months in Turin, the 32-year-old helped the reigning champions to win a league title, as well as the Italian Supercoppa and the Coppa Italia.
However, Aluko recalled that there were occasions when she was treated differently in everyday life unless she revealed she played for Juve.
She told The Daily Telegraph: “[In shops people would ask me] ‘What are you doing here? Why are you here?’
“The minute I say I play for Juventus, the whole atmosphere changes. But if I didn’t play for Juventus, it wouldn’t.
“I found myself having conversations in broken Italian: ‘You cannot make me feel as if I’m about to rob the store just because of your fear and your ignorance.’
“Every time I landed at Turin airport in the last four weeks, I was being treated like Pablo Escobar. Sniffer dogs were being set upon me.”
Aluko’s comments come amid a growing number of high-profile incidents of racism in Italian football, which most recently saw newspaper Corriere dello Sport come under fire for a controversial front-page centred around Chris Smalling and Romelu Lukaku.
However, she recognised that problems are not confined to Italy alone.
“Racism is everywhere,” added the striker, who was involved in a discrimination case against former England manager Mark Sampson in 2017. “What’s important is that in England, usually, people are outraged. It’s not normalised, because that behaviour is called out.
“In Italy – in men’s football, in particular – the reaction of owners and fans says everything you need to know.
“Those are the nuances. You choose your poison, in a way. London is the most amazing city in the world because I see people from all over.”
In spite of the issues away from the pitch, Aluko admitted that the decision to leave Juventus came after realising a difference in ambition between her and the club and now says she is considering other opportunities away from the pitch.
“There’s a real kind of, ‘If it’s not broke, don’t fix it’ kind of mentality,” she continued. “I’m used to being part of a team constantly pushing the envelope.
“Juventus was the complete opposite. I’m not sure what their ambition is in the Champions League. I can’t change it alone.
“That made me think, let me prioritise the things that get me out of bed, get me excited.”
• Culled from mirror.co.uk.