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Nwakaeme: I Smile At Racists To Keep Them Quiet

Nwakaeme: I Smile At Racists To Keep Them Quiet

Nigeria forward Anthony Nwakaeme has revealed his subtle approach to tackling racism in football, Completesports.com reports.

Nwakaeme has spent 11 years in Europe playing for clubs Romania, Israel and Turkey.

Currently in the books of Turkish Super Lig outfit Trabzonspor, Nwakaeme hinted that the best way to disarm any abusers is by smiling at them.

“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.”

The 32-year-old also recounted an incident in Israel during his stint with Hapoel Be’er Sheva which helped his perspectives against racism in football.

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

“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.”

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

Nwakaeme said the gesture empowered him to deal with the issue, determined as he was not to give the group the satisfaction of seeing him react negatively.

“Sometimes instead of fighting you, I’ll avoid (confronting) you,” he added. “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.

“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.”

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