Mikel Obi has had very few confrontations with football authorities since his over 15 years as a professional, but his biggest, bravest and most significant till date will be standing up to the Turkish FA.
In his instagram post four days ago, Mikel called out the football chiefs in Turkey for their insensitivity to life in the face of the growing threat of Coronavirus.
Turkey on Wednesday confirmed the Covid-19 cases has spiked from 47 to 98 and also recorded its first casualty.
The Super Lig has been on despite the global outbreak of the virus, but matches have been played behind closed doors.
Mikel refused to play for Trabzonspor in a top of the table clash on Sunday against Istanbul Basaksehir, he was named as a substitute in the that eventually ended 1-1.
He posted a strong protest on IG demanding the league be suspended and players not to be blackmailed into marching onto the pitch.
There is more to life than football. I do not feel comfortable and don’t want to play in this situation. Everyone should be home with their families and loved ones in this critical time. Season should be cancelled as the world is facing such turbulent times.
While there are now attempts from the Players’ union in Turkey to impress on Authorities for the league to be suspended, Mikel led the fight.
He also paid the price as his contract with Trabzonspor was mutually terminated, yet he received no public support from the global football union body, FIFPro on the matter.
Since his protest, at least two top stars who have a history with football in Turkey, Didier Drogba and Radamel Falcao, the latter currently with Galatasaray have thrown their weight behind the Nigerian.
A former Super Eagles teammate, Brown Ideye also spoke out in support of Mikel’s position and he also took a swipe on the Super Lig.
“More prominent leagues with bigger pay have been postponed, I was shocked to learn they’re still on,” Ideye said.
What Mikel has urged is for people in authority to act responsibly and attach the importance the coronavirus outbreak demands.
But his message must now resonate back home, to the NPFL, where matches are still ongoing and the LMC has reportedly decided they would consider playing behind closed doors if should the threat levels increase.
At this time it is a no brainer what governments and football authorities must do until a solution to the rapid spread of Covid-19 is found… STAY HOME.
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