When Algeria and Ivory Coast were eliminated from Afcon, Nigeria became the bookies’ favourite to lift the trophy. When they became the next team to suffer a shock exit, many footy fanatics across the country took their anger out on the players.
Goalkeeper Maduka Okoye took the brunt of the abuse, with some fans going so far as wishing death upon him and his loved ones.
Several other fans accused the goalkeeper of match-fixing.
Okoye was left with no other option but to disable all comments on his social media accounts.
Everton’s Alex Iwobi also suffered a lot of online abuse after he was red-carded just moments after coming onto the field. Most football fans are in agreement that the referee’s decision was harsh, but that didn’t stop many on social media from sending Iwobi abuse.
The Everton attacker removed all his posts on Instagram and posted an apology to Super Eagles fans.
During the tournament, Head Coach Augustine Eguavoen said Nigerian fans need to learn to manage their disappointment better.
“People need to act responsibly and not turn their disappointments into hate speech and threats against players,” Eguavoen told Al Jazeera.
Nigeria’s round of 16 exit was their first since 1984. They have never failed to reach the final eight of Afcon since that year.
Eagles winger Moses Simon said fans must remember that players are humans too.
“When you insult or threaten someone, it demoralises them and has a negative impact,” the Nantes player said.
Eguavoen said he still receives abuse for an extra-time penalty he conceded against Italy in the 1994 FIFA World Cup.
Image source: @AceFootball