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I never surrendered to racism – Trabzonspor’s Nwakaeme

Trabzonspor star Anthony Nwakaeme revealed that he never let racists distract him, stating that eradicating racism from football remains a near-impossible task.

Protests against racism made their way into the beautiful game, with several footballers showing their solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement by taking a knee before matches.

For the Turkey-based 32-year-old striker, football authorities cannot find a lasting panacea to discrimination because it is a broader issue.

During his time at Hapoel Be’er Sheva, Nwakaeme narrated how he was racially abused, his reaction and how he felt footballers should respond if they find themselves in his situation.

“Racism is in sports and growing bigger in football,” he told BBC Sport Africa.

“It will continue to spread everywhere, and I can’t confidently say when it can be kicked out of football.

“I experienced racism a few years ago when I played in Israel with my team [Hapoel Be’er Sheva] away to Maccabi Haifa.

“Right there on the pitch, I decided I was not going to let those abusing me win.

“The Maccabi Haifa fans were making monkey noises and booing me, then I turned, looked straight at them and then I smiled.

“As soon as they saw my reaction, they realised that what they had done hadn’t affected me in any way, so they started applauding me, cheering and singing my name.

“Sometimes instead of fighting you, I’ll avoid (confronting) you. That was exactly what happened there.

“I know I could have challenged them or stopped the game in my own way, but I was enjoying myself on the pitch, I felt powerful and I was making life difficult for their team.

“I wasn’t going to let them distract me or put me down. I wouldn’t allow anyone to make me feel less of a man by reacting negatively.

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“Once they noticed I wasn’t falling or dropping to that level of anger or hatred, they began to cheer me up. Why should I let them win?

“I understand that not many footballers can handle it that way, but personally I don’t pay attention to those things because racism is a societal problem.”

During the 2020-21 campaign, Nwakaeme featured in 34 league games – scoring on seven occasions as Yerdas Selzavon’s men finished fourth on the Super Lig log.

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