Nigerian footballer John Obi Mikel, who sensationally quit his club Trabzonspor after criticising Turkish authorities on social media for caring more about football and the domestic league than the safety of people, insists he will not accept any offer to return to Trabzonspor.
His post on Instagram earlier this week read: ‘There is more to life than football. 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 at this critical time. Season should be cancelled as the world is facing such turbulent times.’
Turkey’s Sports Minister Muharrem Kasapoglu has since suspended matches indefinitely, bowing to pressure from players and coaches after many other countries called off sports events.
But Mikel has now returned to London with his family and has vowed not to return to Turkey.
The Nigerian told The Athletic: ‘They were really upset about the whole thing. I was told to meet with the president in his office one-on-one.
‘He asked me to take it down (his statement). I told him I wasn’t going to do that. It’s my opinion. This is how I feel. We live in a free world. I have freedom of speech. I can express my opinion.
‘I wanted to win the league too but at this point in time, we have to think about what is more important: to save peoples’ lives.
‘I want to help in any way that I can to defeat this virus. For us to be out there playing; I don’t think we are helping the global situation. I don’t feel it is right for us to play football.
‘I told them I wanted to go home. They said, “If you go home, you’re not coming back.” I said, “OK, I’m going home.”‘