• Thursday, May 23, 2024
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BusinessDay

Who is Eniola Aluko? First African Woman Appointed to Board of Female Football Club in Italy

Eni Aluko-3

Eniola Aluko, a Nigerian-born British former sports director for Aston Villa and Angel City in England, has made history by becoming the first African female to make the board of Italy’s female top-flight football club FC Como Women.

Mercury 13, an investment group focused on the development of women’s football clubs, recently finalised its $100 million acquisition by securing a controlling stake in FC Como Women, a team competing in Italy’s Serie A. A consortium led by Victoire Cogevina Reynal, Mario Malave, Eniola Aluko and Women in Football’s Ebru Koksal, the group last year announced plans to acquire women’s soccer clubs across Europe and Latin America.

FC Como Women, currently playing in the top division of Italian women’s football, is located in the picturesque region around Lake Como, known for its affluent residents like George Clooney and Richard Branson. The team plays its home matches in Seregno, approximately 14 miles south of the lake, and attracts an average crowd of 1,700 spectators per game.

Transitioning from her playing career, the Lagos-born has pursued football broadcasting and now ventures into sports ownership with the Mercury 13 group. Her ownership of Como FC not only marks a historic milestone for black women in Italian football but also signals a significant step forward for diversity and representation in sports ownership.

Growing Up

Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Eniola Aluko moved to Birmingham in England when she was six months old, where she developed a passion for football while playing with her brother and his friends. She began her career at Leafield Athletic Ladies before joining Birmingham City Ladies’ youth team, where she made an impactful debut at just 14 years old.

The Mercury 13 group’s commitment to investing in women’s football teams underscores the growing interest and investment in the sport globally. With Eniola Aluko’s leadership, the group aims to build a portfolio of women’s clubs, leveraging the increasing popularity of women’s football to drive growth and development in the sport.

Football Journey

Eni Aluko, who grew up playing football alongside her brother Sone Aluko and his friends, also engaged in other sports like tennis and was a dedicated supporter of Manchester United.

The 37-year-old football journey began at Leafield Athletic Ladies, followed by a stint at the youth team of Birmingham City Ladies under the guidance of manager Marcus Bignot.

Before retiring from professional football in January 2020, Eniola Aluko also provided television commentary on football, including FIFA Men’s and Women’s World Cups.

From Football Punditry to Ownership

Eniola Aluko’s journey from professional player to club owner is a testament to her dedication to football to make a positive impact. As an established figure in the football world, her involvement is expected to elevate the profile of women’s football in Italy and inspire future generations of black sports investors and owners.

She has been a regular broadcaster for live football on ITV, BT Sport, Amazon Prime and Fox Sports in the USA, including men’s Premier League matches and Women’s Super League since 2014. She was the first Sporting Director for Angel City FC in the American National Women’s Soccer League and formerly held the position of Sporting Director at Aston Villa Women’s Football Club from January 2020 to June 2021

The acquisition of FC Como Women by the Mercury 13 group, led by Eniola Aluko, represents a significant milestone in Italian football history.