Super Eagles midfielder Alex Iwobi has garnered significant support from fans, players, officials, and ex-internationals following the backlash he faced on social media after Nigeria's defeat to Ivory Coast in the final of the 2024 Africa Cup of Nations.
On Monday morning, the Fulham player deleted all his photos and videos, except for one, on the social media platform Instagram after receiving a barrage of negative comments on his page.
Throughout the tournament, Iwobi, who started in the final game, has been one of the most heavily criticised players in the team, despite the Super Eagles advancing to the final.
Iwobi a scapegoat for Nigeria's AFCON final loss?
Many expressed the view that he was the weakest link in the team and wasn’t performing at his best, while others questioned why the 27-year-old always made the starting lineup.
Tensions escalated when the midfielder decided to take a break from social media after Sunday’s final, a move that attracted significant attention.
Following the team’s return to Abuja, Nigerian Minister of Youth and Sports John Enoh took the time to sit and discuss with Iwobi, thanking him for his contribution to the team.
He also urged Iwobi to ignore the negativity and focus on the future, assuring him of the Nigerian government and sports fraternity's unwavering support.
Oshoala and Ndidi lends a hand to Iwobi
Super Falcons star Asisat Oshoala was outspoken about the treatment of players on social media, advocating for constructive criticism rather than condemnation and insults.
She also commended Iwobi for his performance at the AFCON.
Leicester City star Wilfred Ndidi cautioned Nigerian fans against abusing players online, emphasising that footballers, like everyone else, make mistakes, albeit on live television.
Iwobi’s uncle, Augustine Jay Jay Okocha, also took to social media to condemn the hate messages directed at his nephew, urging fans to express their opinions maturely and moderately.
Debola Adebanjo, a Nigerian working with players' welfare organization FIFPRO, also voiced support for Iwobi, insisting that fans could handle their reactions and treatment of players better during or after games.
Musa pleads for maturity and understanding
Super Eagles captain Ahmed Musa released a statement urging Nigerians to support the players and view them not as perfect individuals, but as those who always do their best whenever called upon to represent Nigeria.
Social media platform X (formerly known as Twitter) was flooded with posts in solidarity with Alex Iwobi.
Sports journalists, content creators, and enthusiasts also showed support for Iwobi online, calling on others to refrain from the stream of hate often seen on social media directed towards him.