By James Agberebi:
William Troost-Ekong has stated that players of the Super Eagles could boycott any game if any member of the team faces racist abuse at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Troost-Ekong, 24, who is currently withthe Super Eagles preparing for Monday’s friendly against Democratic Republic of Congo in Port Harcourt, stated this in an interview with British publication The Observer on Sunday.
Russia is a country known for racism issues and Troost-Ekong said the Super Eagles will surely take a stand if they encounter such incident.
“We haven’t openly spoken about it in the team,” the Turkey-based defender said. “Everyone is aware of it but I don’t think until that moment, if it were to come, that you can prepare for something like that.
“I think if we felt in any way that there was very apparent racism, which everyone would be uncomfortable with, if anyone said: ‘We’re not going to play,’ then the team would make a unanimous decision. We have a great team spirit so if one player said they didn’t want to play, everyone would stick with that.”
Troost-Ekong described the Super Eagles group at the 2018 World Cup as very difficult but expressed confidence they can replicate their qualifying performance which saw them finish ahead of Cameroon, Algeria and Zambia.
“It’s hard because we’ve got a really difficult group ( Argentina, Iceland, Croatia) but I think we can surprise like we did in qualifying, as we were not the favourites to go through, with Cameroon and Algeria there, but we were unbeaten apart from the last game [awarded 3-0 to Algeria because of an ineligible player],” he added.
“We have a new coach and a lot of young players coming through, so I think at the World Cup we can do the same. ”
Having spend time with Tottenham Hotspur youth side, Troost-Ekong said he is looking forward to facing Harry Kane when the Super Eagles face England at Wembley on June 2.
“It’ll be nice to play against Harry again after all these years, so it will be exciting. It will be a bit of a homecoming seeing as I spent some time in England and I have such strong ties in England. And quite a lot of the team play in England and so many Nigerians live in England, so it will be a nice atmosphere.”
And commenting on Juan Mata’s Common Goal charity which he became one of only four players going to the World Cup to sign up for, Troost-Ekong said: “It’s not an achievement but it’s a really exciting step for me to do something like this. I was looking to do different charity projects to get involved in.
“I’ve done a few already, but it was nice to do something public like Common Goal, simply because it’s good that footballers unite and do something together. No matter how much you make or whatever club you play at, you can be part of something like that. I think I am very blessed to be here in Turkey and to have the things I have now, so it’s nice to give something back.
“I wanted to be part of it as a Nigerian, so then hopefully more of my international and Bursaspor team-mates will want to join. I think it’s growing steady but I think it will be infectious once people see the projects that we will do together or the impact we can have as football players, which is not very big to us, but is to some other people. I think it should be infectious and the more footballers that sign up, the more powerful it will become.”