Nigeria’s footballer Anthony Nwakaeme believes the issue of racism is still rife in football despite efforts to combat it.
Nwakaeme, who currently plays for Turkey’s Trabzonspor believes the issue has proved difficult to curb despite recent campaigns by various football authorities like Fifa, Uefa, and others such as Premier League footballs, according to BBC Sport Africa.
Protests against racism made their way into the beautiful game last year, following the murder of George Floyd at the hands of now-convicted policeman Derek Chauvin in the United States.
“…In England players from the Premier League and EFL started to take a knee before every match to raise awareness and display solidarity against racism – both within sport and across wider society.
‘Racism is in sports’
“This wasn’t the first time we’ve seen professional sports stars taking the knee, of course – the gesture originated in the US when American footballer Colin Kaepernick did the same in 2016. Kaepernick kneeled during the national anthem in protest against police brutality against black citizens in the States. Kaepernick was ostracised, but the gesture has since become a symbol of anti-racism within sports,” wrote Darryl Rigby, political correspondent at the Immigration Advice Service and guest columnist for World Football Summit.
Nwakaeme says he never allows racists to distract him.
The 32-year-old striker revealed this as he narrated how he has been racially abused, his reaction and how he felt footballers should respond if they find themselves in his situation.
“Racism is in sports and growing bigger in football. It will continue to spread everywhere, and I can’t confidently say when it can be kicked out of football.
‘I was not going to let those abusing me win’
“I experienced racism a few years ago when I played in Israel with my team [Hapoel Be’er Sheva] away to Maccabi Haifa. Right there on the pitch, I decided I was not going to let those abusing me win.
He says the Maccabi Haifa fans were making monkey noises and booing him but “I turned, looked straight at them, and then I smiled”.
“As soon as they saw my reaction, they realised that what they had done hadn’t affected me in any way, so they started applauding me, cheering, and singing my name.
“…I wasn’t going to let them distract me or put me down. I wouldn’t allow anyone to make me feel less of a man by reacting negatively.
During the 2020-21 campaign, Nwakaeme featured in 34 league games – scoring on seven occasions as Yerdas Selzavon’s men finished fourth on the Super Lig log, according to Goal.
Compiled by Betha Madhomu