Eniola Aluko says she “acknowledges and accepts” former England team-mate Nikita Parris’ apology for a controversial goal celebration in 2017.
Parris described celebrating with then-England coach Mark Sampson, who was accused of using discriminatory language to Aluko, as “thoughtless”.
“Although I’m yet to speak with Nikita, I acknowledge and accept this apology. Thanks,” wrote Aluko on social media.
“Black women should always strive for unity not division.”
Aluko, now sporting director of Aston Villa Women, added: “During the current climate, Nikita leads the way for the England women’s football team in acknowledging and addressing past individual and collective actions with regards to racism.”
Parris, 26, pointedly ran to celebrate with Sampson after a goal against Russia in a 6-0 World Cup qualifying win in October 2017.
“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,” she wrote on social media on Wednesday.
Aluko said in November 2017 that Parris’ celebration was not respectful considering the complaints against Sampson at the time.
The 33-year-old retired from football in January, having won 102 England caps, the last coming in 2016.
The Football Association apologised to her for racially discriminatory remarks made by Sampson after a third investigation into his behaviour, but cleared him of bullying accusations.
Sampson was sacked the day after Parris’ celebration in a World Cup qualifier over “inappropriate and unacceptable” behaviour in a previous role as Bristol Academy manager. He later won a settlement from the FA and is now part of League Two Stevenage’s coaching staff.
Parris, who moved to Lyon from Manchester City in summer 2019, played a key part in England’s run to the semi-finals of the women’s World Cup that year under successor Phil Neville.