Football hooliganism has come to the fore in Nigeria once again as three football fans were fatally wounded on Saturday night in a bar fight in Abakaliki, over the common argument about who is the better player between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that this latest bit of idiocy from football-mad Nigerian fans occurred during Portugal’s 1-0 victory over Croatia in the last 16 of the ongoing Euro 2016.
According to Vanguard, an eyewitness reported that the melee ensued when a Ronaldo supporter identified as “Marshal’’ celebrated wildly as the Real Madrid star’s shot was parried onto the path of Ricardo Quaresma who duly nodded in the winner.
Marshall then rushed to Obinna – a Lionel Messi fan – and mocked him, chanting “I told you, I told you Ronaldo is the best’’.
Obinna then shoved Marshal and a fight ensued, with friends of both men joining in as it became a free-for-all.
The bar owner, identified simply as Simon, rushed outside and invited people within the compound to intervene, but three persons, including Obinna were already wounded, prompting Simon to close before the match ended.
“I banned them from coming to my shop but this is their first visit since the commencement of the competition,” Simon said afterwards.
“It took the intervention of others inside the shop for me to allow them, as I was sure that their acrimony toward each other goes beyond Ronaldo and Messi supremacy,’’ he added.
A youth leader in the area, Dr Obiora Ike, decried the level of fanaticism being displayed by young soccer fans in the state, especially over foreign clubs and players.
“This sort of incident occurs regularly and one wonders why people should fight and disturb themselves over clubs and footballers who do not even know that they exist.
“It is time the relevant authorities should seriously address this issue before it gets out of hand and curiously, none of these fanatics has such sentiment for Nigerian clubs and players,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, the State Police Command’s Public Relations Officer, DSP George Okafor, said the incident had not been officially reported, even though it wasn’t uncommon.
It will be recalled that a similar argument earlier this year led to the death of a Nigerian student in India.