John Obi Mikel quits club and goes home amid coronavirus fears

By: Sports Desk |

Updated: March 18, 2020 5:24:15 pm

John Obi Mikel protested against the continuing Turkish league. (Trabzonspor)

John Obi Mikel has had his contract with Turkish club Tranbzonspor terminated over his protest against the continuation of the Turkish football league amid fears of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Turkish Super Lig is among a few football leagues across the world which are still going on – though fans are not being allowed entry into stadiums. Most countries have suspended their football leagues and other activities which require social congregations as the world grapples with the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

Mikel said on Tuesday he does not want to play football in such a situation. “I do not feel comfortable and don’t want to play football in this situation. Everyone should be home with their families and loved ones in this critical time,” he wrote in an Instagram post.

A club statement from Trabzonspor followed soon after, saying that Mikel’s contract had been terminated and that he had been released. Mikel also gave up his wages for the rest of the season, according to the statement. He is now a free agent.

The 32-year-old midfielder had signed a two-year contract plus an option for an additional year at Trabzonspor last summer after leaving Middlesbrough.

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Mikel’s decision to leave his club drew many critics in Turkey but he received some support from fellow footballers. Galatasaray forward Radamel Falcao replied “you are right John”, while Didier Drogba said they were “words of wisdom”.

John Obi Mikel’s wife, Olga, also defended him on social media from detractors of his decision. “You’re vile. My man is a hero. Family over everything,” she replied to a comment that criticized the Nigerian footballer’s protest.

Turkey reported its first coronavirus-related death on Wednesday as well as a doubling of confirmed cases from 47 to 98 in one day.

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