Bursaspor defender William Troost-Ekong has said the response of the Super Eagles to racism in the World Cup may be dependent on how any individual member of the team reacts.
The 24-year-old noted that the team has not had a meeting to discuss the eventuality of a racism incident but he was certain that the stance from the player will be collective.
World Cup hosts, Russia have had major issues regarding racism with the fans openly displaying racist behaviour and hooliganism.
Last month, Russia was charged by FIFA for the racist behaviour by their fans. Monkey chants could be heard from the stands directed at black players from France in the friendly against Russia.
“We haven’t openly spoken about it in the team,” Troost-Ekong told The Observer.[tooltip id=”4500c2f113202943ff1ae30d00c9d4ac”] [/tooltip]“Everyone is aware of it but I don’t think until that moment, if it were to come, that you can prepare for something like that.
“I think if we felt in any way that there was very apparent racism, which everyone would be uncomfortable with, if anyone said:[tooltip id=”4500c2f113202943ff1ae30d00c9d4ac”] [/tooltip]‘We’re not going to play,’ then the team would make a unanimous decision. We have a great team spirit so if one player said they didn’t want to play, everyone would stick with that.”
Russia’s notoriety for fan racism has cast a cloud over the World Cup which begins in less than three weeks. Beside the friendly, Russia was charged for fan racism in the past two European Championship. There have been incidents involving clubs in the Russian League also, with Zenit St Petersburg charged on two separate occasions during the Europa League. The Russian Football Union also fined Zenit and Spartak Moscow for racist chants in league games.
Troost-Ekong’s central defensive partner for Nigeria, Leon Balogun, who was racially abused in the Bundesliga earlier this year by Hannover supporters while warming up as a substitute, said after the incident that racist fans should be banned from football.
“The fans recorded doing this should be banned from stadiums for life,” the Brighton defender told ACLSports.[tooltip id=”4500c2f113202943ff1ae30d00c9d4ac”] [/tooltip]“I’m shocked that such behaviour exists in 2018 in the Bundesliga, where players of differing backgrounds, skin colours and religions fight daily for their fans,” he tweeted.[tooltip id=”4500c2f113202943ff1ae30d00c9d4ac”] [/tooltip]“…there should not be room for racism in any corner of the world!”
Super Eagles play their first match against Croatia in Kaliningrad before facing Iceland at Volgograd. The final match against Argentina holds at the Krestovsky Stadium, Saint Petersburg.
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