“I retired because a sport I loved so much wasn’t showing me love back”
BY ELEANOR NOYCE, IMAGE BY JANE MORRIS
Former Lioness and football pundit Lianne Sanderson has expressed her disappointment at the FA for “forgetting” about her in a tribute to former Lionesses. Held during half-time at England’s 2-1 victory against the USA at Wembley on Friday, Lianne shared a moving statement via Twitter on Saturday night.
“At this point I can’t say I’m surprised. All I can say is I’m sick of the hurt the systematic abuse has caused me throughout the years. They forgot about me before and many times before that and last night was just another example”, Lianne wrote. “All former Lionesses were invited to Wembley last night, got many souvenirs of their time playing for England, of which I’m happy for them about. Especially after raising this issue at the Houses of Parliament 4 years ago. When asked what the FA can do? My response, don’t make former players feel they are forgotten about.”
During her time as a Lioness, Lianne won 50 caps for the England national team. She is an Arsenal quadruple winner, shortlisted for Sports Star of the Year at the 2021 DIVA Awards. A visible member of the LGBTQIA community championing women’s inclusion in sport, she is a long-time advocate for greater equality.
Twitter has been inundated with beautiful tributes to Lianne since she spoke out, evoking important discussions around legacy and inclusion. Many have articulated their gratitude for the time that Lianne has given them both as a mentor and friend, former West Ham and Spurs player Samantha Miller included.
“This is someone that spent time at a game when I was younger giving me advice on American scholarships. Invited me to make content while I was in LA. Took me out for food, made sure I had a good time visiting, introduced me to friends/players and called me when I did my ALC”, Samantha wrote.
Former Canadian soccer player and commentator Kaylyn Kyle also expressed her support via Twitter. “You’ve always stayed true to yourself and you have always inspired so many people on and off the pitch”, she wrote. “I was very lucky to not only play with you once but play with you twice and see that leadership in dark times and good times! Supporting you from afar.”
Eniola Aluko, Pundit-Sporting Director at Angel City FC and ex-footballer for Chelsea, Juventus and England, similarly showed her support. “I appreciate The FA have apologised quickly on this but it is important to state moving forward, in support of @liannesanderson, that this exclusion cannot and should not happen again. Inclusion is about celebrating ALL former players in a way that everyone feels honoured.”
“Unfortunately, these “errors” and “misjudgments” often happen more than once to the same people. The benefit of coincidence is lost. For those in charge of inviting all the former players to the special occasion on Friday, please do better next time.”
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