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'the Nigeria Flag Was Bloodied': Footballers Condemn Violence Against Protesters by drewsman(m): 1:59pm On Oct 21, 2020
Minutes after Manchester United's 2-1 victory at
French giants Paris Saint-Germain in the UEFA
Champions League on Tuesday, United's Nigerian
striker Odion Ighalo posted two videos on his
social media feed.
They were not the normal celebratory videos that
follow a match win. Instead, with a wet drizzle
forming a teary backdrop around him, Ighalo was
sombre and subdued, and his message was
unequivocally directed at the Nigerian government.
It followed harrowing videos from his homeland that
showed peaceful protesters seemingly being shot
with live ammunition in Nigeria's commercial
capital of Lagos State.
"I am sad and heartbroken and I don't know where
to start from," he began in a voice that sounded
"I am not the kind of guy that talks about politics,
but I can't keep quiet any more for what is going on
back home in Nigeria.
"I will say Nigerian government, you guys are a
shame to the world for killing your own citizens,
sending military to the streets to kill unarmed
protesters because they are protesting for their
rights? It is uncalled for."

Ighalo went on call on the United Nations, the UK,
and world leaders to come to the aid of citizens in
Nigeria. Within hours, the video had racked up two
million views on Twitter.
Tuesday's events were the tragic culmination of
events which began on October 3 in the southern
Nigerian town of Ughelli, where a young man was
arrested by the notorious Special Anti-Robbery
Squad (SARS) and fell to his death from the police
vehicle, with the officers driving away in his SUV.
Protests broke out following the incident and
continued for two days before spilling over into
Lagos, amplified by the power of Twitter and then
spread nationwide within days.
Ighalo's video was only the latest in a series of
reactions to ongoing protests against police
brutality in Nigeria, not just by football players but
also other Nigerian and international sports figures.
Prior to Tuesday's events, the Super Eagles took a
stand in support of the protests during the
international weekend, when the team formed a
circle following Kelechi Iheanacho's goal against
Tunisia, took a knee and raised their fists in
support of the protest movement.
Leicester's Wilfred Ndidi stood up with a raised
first during the Foxes' Premier League home loss to
Aston Villa last weekend.
In Italy, striker Victor Osimhen scored his first goal
in the Serie A for Napoli, the club he joined during
the summer, and promptly displayed a shirt with
the #EndSARS and #EndPoliceBrutalityInNigeria
hashtags used by the protesters.

Elsewhere on the same day, fellow striker Simeon
"Simy" Nwankwo did the same after scoring for
Crotone in their 1-1 draw with Juventus.
Nwankwo told ESPN that he has also suffered some
of the harassment that has led to the nationwide
"I have been stopped (by police) many times," he
alleged. "Just because they look into the car and
see a young boy they feel like [shouldn't be] driving
a car and dressing good.
"They pull you by the side and start searching the
car like you are a criminal.
"We are here doing a lot of sacrifices trying to
make ends meet like any other Nigerian. Then,
when you come home to your country to rest you
come outside and somebody starts asking you
"And when you answer in a simple tone, they get
aggressive to change the situation and take it to
the angle they want to. Because at the end of the
day they want to take money."
Nwankwo said even without his personal
experience, the protests resonated with him: "We
don't need any special inspiration.
"It is a moment where all the youths need to come
together to make a simple demand about
something that we think and we feel.
"We can't be living in a country where you are
meant to excel and you are living in fear. People
are getting killed, people are getting harassed.
"The gesture [on the weekend] is that we are here
and the only thing we can do is try to make our
voice heard and that it is a peaceful thing that the
government should look into and it is very
heartbreaking to see the videos of people being

Anger over police brutality in Nigeria had been
simmering for years, and the current protests are
not the first sparked by such violence. The
difference is that others have mostly been in
isolated pockets and confined to the localities
where each incident took place.
The Ughelli incident appears to have been the final
tipping point that took it national, with athletes
suffering just as much as other citizens.
Shooting Stars defender Izu Joseph was shot and
killed by soldiers in his hometown in 2016.
Super Eagles forward Ekigho Ehiosun posted his
ordeal at the hands of police while returning from a
wedding last December on his Facebook page.
And in February, Remo Stars defender Tiamiyu
Kazeem was knocked down and killed after being
detained by police. The Inspector general ordered
an investigation, but nothing has been heard of the
investigation since.
The protests have since taken a global turn, with a
number of influential sports people and celebrities
weighing in with support, including Manchester
United's Marcus Rashford, UFC champions Israel
Adesanya and Kamaru Usman, heavyweight boxing
champion Anthony Joshua, along with Rihanna,
former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton,
amongst others.
Almost all Super Eagles players have shared
messages of support on their social media
channels, and Nwankwo says the events are so
traumatic for him that coming home might be a
tough ask if the issues are not resolved.
The Crotone man added: "At this moment, seeing
what happened, the way the military has been
ambushing people from the videos, what will I tell
my family? Will I be willing to take them to such a
hostile place?
"Imagine driving with them and getting stopped and
harassed for no reason. I have to think of the
psychological effect it will have on them. People go
through this psychological trauma, this torture. They
don't know the psychological impact they have on
"Nigeria is our country, we want a better Nigeria but
it is difficult."
For the here and now, the forward is also suffering
his own psychological trauma, saying that the joy of
playing football has been sucked out of him.
He added: "Now, the way things are going, I can't
see the joy in scoring a goal, I can't see the joy in
celebrating. I put everything about the love, the fun
on the back foot. But one thing is for sure, I will
keep sweating, I will keep playing, I will keep
scoring for the fallen heroes.
"But celebrating in a joyful manner will be hard for
me. Everything I do now will be done for them
because it is crazy how people who will march out
peacefully will be shot like animals.
"Today we saw how the Nigerian flag was bloodied.
That is heartbreaking for me."

Source: https://africa.espn.com/football/nigeria-nga/story/4213799/the-nigeria-flag-was-bloodied-footballers-condemn-violence-against-protesters?device=featurephone

Lalasticlala pls move this to the appropriate section

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