Super Eagles captain, Ahmed Musa, has pleaded with fans to stop the cyber attacks on teammate Alex Iwobi following Nigeria’s Africa Cup of Nations final loss to Ivory Coast on Sunday.
The Eagles suffered a 2-1 defeat to Ivory Coast at the Stade Alassane Ouattara, ending the team’s dreams of a fourth continental crown.
The Fulham midfielder, who started all of Nigeria’s AFCON games, was in action for 79 minutes before he was taken off for Alhassan Yusuf.
Immediately after the final whistle, Iwobi became a subject of stiff criticisms from fans and hours later, the 27-year-old was forced to delete photos from his Instagram handle for fear of cyber abuse.
He only left one video post. The Fulham man also locked the comment section of the post for fear of bullying.
Reacting to the sad development, Musa took to his X handle to plead with Nigerians to stop the attack on the midfielder.
“Dear fans, I want to please urge you to halt the cyber-bullying directed towards Alex Iwobi. Cyberbullying is not just a violation of decency but also a serious crime. It’s hypocritical to claim that football unites us while engaging in such behavior,” he wrote.
“Losing a game is undoubtedly tough, but targeting a single player for the team’s shortcomings is unfair and unjust. We win as a team, and we lose as a team. Alex gave his all on the field, just like every member of our squad.
“Instead of spreading negativity, let’s show genuine love and support to our players. They need our encouragement now more than ever. Let’s uplift each other and stand united, both in victory and defeat. THANKS.”
Reacting to Musa’s posts, William Troost-Ekong wrote, “WE ARE WITH YOU SKIPPO @alexiwobi.”
Kenneth Omeruo also wrote on Instagram, “We win together, we lose together, we are all one, and some of our fans should do better. Stay strong Alex Iwobi you are a baller.”
Ex-international, Victor Ezeji, also condemned the attack on Iwobi.
“This is a team that before the AFCON nobody gave any chance but they got to the final and people started expecting much,” he said.
“Nigerians failed to understand the technical aspect of the game because these players were being used in every game while other countries rotated their squads. Our coach stuck to the same set of players and we could tell they were tired.
“We know we wanted to win and we have every right to express our feelings but cyberbullying a player is not the way to go and people should stop it. The players left everything they are doing in Europe to represent the country but we are not appreciating that. They want to win also and so were the Ivorians.”
He added, “Nigerians should know that defeats are bound to happen but we can’t continue to insult players because they lost. If we are complaining of a team that we didn’t give a chance but got to the final, what will the Moroccans do to their players?
“Iwobi should just be himself and try not to feel too bad, I understand how he is feeling but he should take it easy on himself and not listen to what people are saying.”
John Noble, a member of the Eagles team to the 2022 AFCON in Cameroon, also sent some words of encouragement to the former Arsenal player.
“As players we put in our best for the country but people don’t see it when you don’t get the desired result.
“This cyberbullying can affect you mentally and psychologically because it may be hard to get out of it. We win together and lose together and I want to plead with people to stop cyberbullying. This is the second time that Iwobi has been subjected to that.
“I want to advise Iwobi to stay strong because this is his fatherland, he should not give up and not even have the thought of quitting the national team because some of us still genuinely love him and we want him.”
Iwobi has previously been on the receiving end with the fans. Sent off after a VAR review for catching on a Tunisian opponent’s shin with his studs during the round of 16 at the 2021 edition in Cameroon, Iwobi would deactivate his Instagram account after receiving abusive messages on the social media platform following the Eagles 1-0 defeat to the North Africans.