Eni Aluko 'scared for safety' as she flees UK following Joey Barton online attack

Barton likened Aluko to dictators Joseph Stalin and Pol Pot in social media posts, ITV News' Sejal Karia reports

Football pundit Eni Aluko says she feared for her safety and has not left her home following the abuse she suffered as a result of Joey Barton’s comments towards her on social media. Aluko, a former England striker, said she is taking legal action after Barton compared her and fellow ITV presenter Lucy Ward to serial killers Fred and Rose West.

The Wests are known to have tortured and killed at least twelve women between 1967 and 1987.

Former football manager Barton also likened Aluko to dictator Joseph Stalin and Pol Pot, who was responsible for the deaths of one million Cambodians.

In a 15-minute video posted on Instagram, Aluko warned online abuse could lead to a female broadcaster taking their own life.

“I’ve genuinely been scared this week. I didn’t leave my house until Friday and I’m now abroad," she said.

“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.

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“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.”

Barton responded to Aluko's video on X on Wednesday, saying: "I was waiting for the victim card to be played."

ITV criticised Barton for targeting Aluko and Ward with “vindictive remarks” following coverage of Crystal Palace’s FA Cup third-round tie with Everton on January 4. While Aluko did not mention once-capped England midfielder Barton by name, in her video she accused him of being sexist, racist and misogynistic and of having a “violent history”.

The 36-year-old also referenced the late television presenter Caroline Flack, who died by suicide in 2020, when outlining her concerns.

She added that using being "racist, sexist or misogynistic and threatening people " is against the law, and that she had spoken to lawyers on taking action.

She added: “My fear, actually, is that the next time this happens, if we don’t really put a stop to this, is that that girl or that woman kills herself. “I’m not being hyperbolic about that when I say that it’s happened. Caroline Flack, God rest her soul, killed herself, largely because of the online abuse that she was getting. “At what point are we going to understand that this needs to stop? Sexism, racism, misogyny is not an opinion. It’s not freedom of speech. It’s against the law. It’s as simple as that.”

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