Former England footballer Eni Aluko wept outside a Barbados court on Saturday after she was let off for a breach of the country’s quarantine rules after arriving for a holiday.
Aluko, 33, was photographed on a bus by a member of the public who spread the image on social media and accused her of failing to remain in her hotel while awaiting the results of a coronavirus test performed at the airport
Visitors to Barbados from the UK are classed as ‘medium risk’ and required to arrive with a negative coronavirus test, or take a coronavirus test on arrival in the country and quarantine in a hotel until the results are available.
Ms Aluko admitted the charges of leaving the Little Arches hotel in Christ Church before learning the result of her test in a Barbados court and was released with a reprimand, according to local media.
The former footballer, who is now a pundit with the BBC and other broadcasters, called the episode a misunderstanding and told the court that she believed she had to wait a maximum of 12 hours, rather than until the results came through.
She later claimed on Twitter that she had followed all the rules before posting on Instagram, asking for people not to misjudge her true intentions.
If travellers arrive in Barbados with a negative coronavirus test result of the wrong type, they are required to take another one at the airport and await the results in their hotel.
She said: ‘A misunderstanding that has now been fully resolved. I followed all the rules coming into Barbados and arrived with a negative Covid test result and did another test on arrival.
‘I understood that I would have to stay at the quarantine hotel for a maximum of 8-12 hours and would be informed of my result via my contact details after I waited 16 hours. The quarantine hotel were aware and did not prevent me from leaving wearing a protective mask.
‘It was my misunderstanding and honest mistake which the Barbados authorities quite clearly understand, to the extent they refused to let me pay a fine which I offered for my honest mistake.
‘This is my 2nd and last time in Barbados. An Island I love and appreciate. I’d now like to continue enjoying my holiday in peace.’
She was spotted after images surfaced on social media and was tracked down by Barbadian officials before being given a warning in court.
The BBC pundit had been charged with disobeying the order of the Chief Medical Officer and was left in tears as she was escorted out of court on Saturday
Aluko’s results eventually came back negative for Covid-19 but at the time she left the Little Arches Hotel in Enterprise, Christ Church, that was undetermined and her actions were considered a risk to general population.
The former Arsenal and Chelsea striker left her hotel and rode the ZR – a private taxi-bus system that operates in Barbados. Local newspaper Nation News report that she initially pleaded not guilty before changing her plea.
Magistrate Douglas Frederick, who oversaw Aluko’s hearing, warned the former England international that her venture out of the hotel placed others at risk.
Aluko said in her defence that she was confused by the rules on movement as she waited for her results, and she was not prevented from leaving by the hotel.
Barbados has recorded 138 Covid-19 cases and of those so far there have been 108 recoveries and seven deaths.
Aluko, England Women’s 10th most-capped player, stayed at the five-star Little Arches Hotel, with prices starting at £228-a-night.
When questioned the BBC pundit accepted that she was aware that as a visitor to Barbados, she knew she was supposed to stay indoors until the Covid-19 test results came back.
‘I came here on the basis that there were more relaxed rules,’ Aluko was reported to have said in court by Barbadian publication Nation News.
‘I love Barbados. I came here in 2015. I came here for vacation. I would never, ever try to break any rules.
‘I understand that I should have waited on the test. I didn’t think I had to, I thought I had to wait a maximum of time. Honestly, your worship if they had stopped me from leaving I would have complied.’
With the hearing concluded, Aluko stood in tears on the steps of the court and said that while she was not fined or imprisoned for her actions, she was planning to pay a fine regardless as an acceptance of her wrongdoing.
The offer made by Aluko was said to have been seen as a sign of contrition by Magistrate Frederick.
Aluko, who is now the Sporting Director for Aston Villa women’s team, hit the headlines last month following a social media row with ex-Chelsea team-mate Bethany England regarding the UK Government’s furlough scheme.
In a tweet, the 33-year-old wrote that furloughing ‘is needed but has created a culture of do-nothing entitlement’. The post was widely criticised and was later deleted, coupled with an apology for ‘any offence caused’.
Aluko’s England career came to a head in 2017 after she made allegations of ‘bullying and discrimination’ against then-manager Mark Sampson, both allegations denied by Sampson.
An inquiry later ruled that Sampson had made racially offensive remarks to Aluko and also Aluko’s team-mate Drew Spence, forcing an apology from the Football Association.
Aluko is the latest former footballer to fall foul of quarantine rules after former Manchester United midfielder Paul Scholes was visited by police last week after he hosted an illegal house party for his son’s 21st birthday, despite further lockdown rules being imposed in Oldham.
Greater Manchester Police attended the football coach’s £3.5million property after he went ahead with celebrations for his son Arron’s 21st last Friday despite a new lockdown being imposed at midnight on Thursday.
Under the new lockdown rules, which came in force after Oldham saw a 240 per cent surge in cases at the end of last month, residents are not allowed to invite social visitors beyond those in their support bubble into their homes.