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Sports minister kicks against cyberbullying of Iwobi, others



By Francesca Hangeior

The Minister of Sports Development, Sen. John Owan Enoh, has strongly condemned the cyberbullying of Super Eagles midfielder Alex Iwobi at the end of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Cote d’Ivoire.

Recall that the Fulham FC of England star has been subjected to trolling on social media, with some fans blaming him for Nigeria’s defeat to Cote d’Ivoire in Sunday’s AFCON final.

The minister described such acts as uncalled for and assured the player of the support of Nigerians.

Enoh, who accompanied the silver-winning Super Eagles team back to Abuja from Abidjan in the early hours of Tuesday, met privately with Iwobi to encourage and pep him up.

“I am aware of what is happening on social media, and as a ministry, this isn’t the first time we are going to make a statement against bullying, not just you but our sportsmen and women in general who are exposed to bullying due to the outcome of competitions.

“We are concerned about how our sportsmen and women are treated.

“You did your best for your country, and I am proud of you. The leadership and the rest of the country is proud of you. Those who are not are in the far minority and do not speak for the rest of our country, so just be strong.

“You are part of a team that brought home a silver medal, which the country last won at AFCON 2000, which was 23 years ago. You put in your best; thank you very much,” the minister said.

Iwobi, in his brief response, said he had gone off social media after the AFCON final and was focused on trudging on.

“For me, I have taken myself out of social media after yesterday’s game,” Iwobi said.

He said he had deleted all pictures on his Instagram page and locked the comment section of the post, following trolling after the AFCON finals.

“Dear fans, I want to please urge you to halt the cyberbullying directed at 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.

“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,” Musa said. (NAN)

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Rangers Crowned 2023/24 NPFL Champions



Rangers International Football Club of Enugu, the flying antelopes have been crowned champions of the Nigerian Premier Football League 2023/2024 season.

The flying antelopes emerged champions with a 2-1 victory over Gombe United at the Zaria road stadium in Jos to clinch its 8th league title amazing 70 points from 38 matches played during the concluded league season.

Team captain Amobi Ezeakwu received the trophy and the winning prize of one hundred and fifty million naira from the Nigeria Football Federation president Ibrahim Musa Gusau.

Dignitaries who witnessed the match included the top Nigeria Football Federation board led by the chairman and other members of the football governing board; league board chairman Gbenga Elegbeleye as well as plateau state governor Caleb Mutfwang and his counterpart from Enugu Peter Mbah.

With the victory Rangers International will represent Nigeria alongside Remo stars in the African Champions League competition.

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Germany Survive Euro 2024 Scare As Hungarian Star Suffers Horror Injury



Germany survived a scare to finish top of Group A at Euro 2024 as Niclas Fuellkrug’s stoppage-time goal rescued a 1-1 draw against Switzerland, while Scotland were eliminated after a last-gasp 1-0 defeat against Hungary whose striker Barnabas Varga suffered a sickening injury.

Dan Ndoye’s first-half goal in Frankfurt had put Switzerland on course to climb above hosts Germany into top spot.

But Fuellkrug’s late header ensured Julian Nagelsmann’s side advanced to the last 16 in pole position with seven points.

The Germans, who last won the Euros in 1996, will take on the Group C runners-up — currently slated to be Denmark — in the last 16.

Denmark, two points behind leaders England, play Serbia in their last group game on Tuesday.

Germany are also on track for a potential quarter-final clash with Spain, who have been among the best teams at the tournament so far.

Switzerland, who reached the quarter-finals at the last Euros in 2021, have now made the knockout stage in six successive major tournaments.

As Group A runners-up with five points, the Swiss will face the second-placed team in Group B in the last 16.

Although Germany were already through to the last 16 after beating Scotland and Hungary, Nagelsmann opted against resting his stars as he named an unchanged team for a third successive game.

Switzerland took a shock lead in the 28th minute as Ndoye met Remo Freuler’s cross with a close-range volley that flashed past Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.

Ndoye’s first international goal was made in Bologna as both he and Freuler played for the Serie A club last season.

Adding to Germany’s problems, Jonathan Tah was booked, earning the centre-back a ban for the first knockout game.

Germany dominated possession but Ilkay Gundogan scuffed wide with the goal at his mercy after Yann Sommer parried Jamal Musiala’s stinging strike into the midfielder’s path.

Their pressure was finally rewarded in stoppage-time when Fuellkrug rose highest to power his header into the top corner.

– Scotland misery –
In Stuttgart, Scotland were unable to secure the victory that would likely have taken them into the knockout stage of a major tournament for the first time.

In 11 previous appearances at major competitions — eight World Cups and three European Championships — Scotland had bowed out at the group stage.

Once again, they will fly home early after taking just one point from their three matches.

Steve Clarke’s team, who lost to Germany and drew with Switzerland in their first two games, were sunk by a goal 10 minutes into stoppage-time from Kevin Csoboth, whose clinical finish capped a rapid raid from the Hungarians.

Hungary may not secure a last 16 berth despite their victory as they have only three points from their three games.

The four third-placed teams with the best records from the six groups will move into the last 16.

Hungary’s win came at a cost as Varga was stretchered off after a sickening collision.

Varga collapsed to the pitch and was struggling to move after chasing a long cross into the area as Scotland goalkeeper Angus Gunn came to collect the ball.

After a long delay, medics took the 29-year-old from the pitch while a sheet was draped around the stretcher.

Hungary captain Dominik Szoboszlai appeared to be in tears as he consoled his stricken teammate.

Varga was immediately taken to hospital after the incident where he was said to be conscious and talking.

“The condition of Barnabas Varga is stable,” the Hungarian Football Federation (MLSZ) wrote on X.

“The Hungarian national team player is currently in one of the hospitals in Stuttgart. We will inform you immediately if there is any news on his status.”

In Group B on Monday, Italy take on Croatia, while Spain, already qualified in first place, face Albania.

Italy are second in the group with three points, while Croatia and Albania both have one point.

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Pitch Invaders Disrupt Portugal vs Turkey Euro 2024 Match in Pursuit of Ronaldo



A Group F match at the ongoing Euro 2024 between Portugal and Turkey was interrupted several times on Saturday as pitch invaders repeatedly attempted to get close to Cristiano Ronaldo for a photograph.

The first intruder, a young boy wearing a red tracksuit top, emerged from the stands midway through the second half, approaching the Portugal captain. Ronaldo graciously posed for a photo before the boy ran off, attempting to evade the stewards who eventually caught and escorted him away to applause from the stands.

At least five other fans managed to get onto the pitch, either during the match or after the final whistle, attempting similar stunts. However, Ronaldo grew increasingly exasperated with the unwanted attention.

Portugal coach Roberto Martinez expressed relief that none of the multiple fans who invaded the pitch during the game had ill intentions. “It is a concern because today we were lucky that the intentions of the fans were good,” Martinez told reporters after Portugal secured qualification for the last 16.

Martinez acknowledged the admiration fans have for big stars but stressed the potential danger. “I think that we all love a fan who recognizes the big stars who are icons in their lands. I think we all agree with that, but you can understand that it is a very difficult moment if those intentions are wrong. Then the players are exposed, and we need to be careful with that. Probably there is a lot of security and protection and I don’t think it should happen.”

Martinez, the former Belgium boss, added, “Probably we should give a message to the fans that it is not the right way. You are not going to get anything out of it, and what you do is that probably the measures get worse for the future, and it is not good to get the players so exposed when you get people running on the pitch.”

Ronaldo, one of the most recognizable celebrities on the planet, has dealt with similar situations throughout his career. His teammate, Bernardo Silva, who scored the first goal in the game, acknowledged the challenges that come with such fame.

“I am not really concerned. It is just a bit annoying in terms of always having to stop the game because a fan enters the pitch,” the Manchester City player said. “Apart from that, I think that is the price you pay for being so recognized in the world of football. But in terms of feeling in danger, I don’t think so, not me personally at least.”

The disruptions underscore the fine line between fan admiration and the need for player security, highlighting the challenges faced by high-profile athletes in maintaining a balance between their public and private lives.

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