Social Justice activism isn’t a popular trend in Nigerian Sports but in the last International window, Players of the Super Eagles took a stand, and it could be the single most significant show of defiance and solidarity with the agitation back home.
After his goal in the game against Tunisia, an international friendly in Austria, Kelechi Iheanacho took the knee with a raised fist, an action several members of the team followed up with.
— Kelechi Iheanacho (@67Kelechi) October 15, 2020
Whether it was a pre-arranged decision or not, the gesture resonated back home where for over a week Young Nigerians have peacefully protested the brutality of the nation’s police force against citizens and clamored for the dissolution of a “notorious” Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
In the build up to the game, several of the Eagles players as well as Women’s national team players had campaigned through social media with the #EndSARS and #EndPoliceBrutality movement.
— ASISAT M.O.N (@AsisatOshoala) October 11, 2020
But never before had a national team, on an international stage protested in the manner which the Super Eagles did.
It wasn’t about virtue-signalling, far from it, because most of the footballers have more to lose back home but they risked it all. They also risk being ostracized from the national team whose administrators have a very thin skin for outspoken critics or criticism.
Quite recently, the former captain of the Super Falcons, Desire Oparanozie was stripped of the captaincy and black listed for daring to speak out against the culture of the NFF owing players match bonuses after the team’s World Cup campaign in France last year.
She has since not been invited to the team and that perhaps could be the fate of the likes of Iheanacho.
To be Continued…