Nigerian Footballer Iwobi Faces Cyberbullying After AFCON Defeat


Nigerian Footballer Iwobi Faces Cyberbullying

After Nigeria’s disappointing loss to Ivory Coast in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) final, midfielder Alexander Iwobi has become a target of severe cyberbullying. The online abuse has prompted Iwobi to archive all posts on his Instagram account and leave it empty, raising concerns about the impact of online harassment on athletes.

Responding to Cyberbullying: Frustrated Nigerian supporters, angered by the Super Eagles’ 1-2 defeat to Ivory Coast, directed hate speech towards Iwobi on his social media accounts. In response, Iwobi archived all his Instagram posts and emptied his page, highlighting the intensity of the cyberbullying.

History of Online Harassment: This is not the first time Iwobi has faced online harassment; after Nigeria’s elimination in the 2021 AFCON round of 16, he also became a target of hate speech, resulting in the removal of his social media posts.

Nigeria’s Alex Iwobi, left, controls the ball during the African Cup of Nations final match against Ivory Coast at the Olympic Stadium of Ebimpe in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, February 11, 2024 [Themba Hadebe/AP Photo]
Retirement Rumors and Family Legacy: Rumors circulate that Iwobi may consider retiring from playing football for Nigeria due to the persistent online abuse. As the nephew of renowned midfielder Augustine “Jay-Jay” Okocha, Iwobi has faced criticism throughout his career for being compared to his uncle.

Versatility and Team Contribution: Despite criticism, Iwobi played a crucial role in Nigeria’s surprising run to the AFCON final, contributing to the team’s success. With over 70 caps for Nigeria since his debut in 2015, Iwobi’s versatility and dedication have been integral to the Super Eagles’ performance.

Team Support and Anti-Cyberbullying Messages: Members of the Nigerian team, including Wilfred Ndidi and Ahmed Musa, have condemned the cyberbullying and called for support and respect for players. Concerns are raised about the potential impact of the abuse cycle on Nigeria’s ability to attract players from the diaspora.

Impact on International Players: The case of Iwobi adds to a growing trend where foreign-born players, including goalkeeper Maduka Okoye, face online harassment and threats, affecting their mental health and international selection decisions.

Conclusion: The cyberbullying targeting Alexander Iwobi highlights the dark side of football fandom and the impact of online abuse on athletes’ well-being. Calls for support, unity, and a rejection of cyberbullying emphasize the need for a more positive and respectful sports culture. The potential repercussions on Nigeria’s ability to attract players from the diaspora underscore the broader implications of online harassment in the world of football.


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