Alex Iwobi shrugs off online abuse after Nigeria's AFCON final defeat

Alex Iwobi shrugs off online abuse after Nigeria's AFCON final defeat

Alex Iwobi insists he was unmoved by the online abuse he suffered after Nigeria lost the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations final to Ivory Coast.

The Fulham midfielder was targeted on social media, leading him to remove all of his previous Instagram posts as he was singled out for criticism following the 2-1 loss to the hosts in February.

Iwobi, 27, had already been questioned during the competition for perceived poor form.

But the former Arsenal winger said he did not even see the earlier posts as he focused on getting as far as he could with Nigeria.

"The whole competition I didn't see it," he said on his new Project 17 podcast.

"I remember in a press conference they said, ˜where is the creativity?' and I had to address the role I was given and I said I am the kind of guy who will listen to my coach and try to do the job I'm told to do."

Even after the loss to Ivory Coast, Iwobi was instead reading messages of support from friends and family rather than scrolling through any abuse on his social media accounts.

"The game is done now, obviously I'm disappointed - I'm on my phone but I don't check Twitter. I'm on Snapchat and WhatsApp with all my people telling me I've done my nation proud."

It was not until the following day that Iwobi was made aware of any comments as Napoli striker Victor Osimhen and other members of the squad rallied round and attempted to put out a collective statement condemning the insults.

"At two o'clock there was a knock on the door, I was like, ˜I don't want room service' but I looked through the keyhole and it is Victor Osimhen," added Iwobi.

"I'm half-asleep with my hair everywhere but he said, ˜I'm not going to lie to you, they've been talking about you a lot on social media and I want to make sure you're good. They're saying you're apparently going to retire, you're depressed'.

"It is what it is, it is not the first time. The first AFCON where I got sent off it happened, at Arsenal it constantly happened, at Everton when I signed for two years it happened, that is football. I would rather be off social media, I don't want to see that and I don't care.

"They wanted to put out a statement saying cyber bullying is wrong and I said, ˜I hear that but we are just going to create a bigger scene' but they said we needed to stand as one.

"They were standing up for me but I said no because the world would think I was down, I'm actually calm, just listening to music."

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Iwobi is now back on Instagram and posts the occasional message on X and, while he condemns cyberbullying, he maintains he has not let it impact his life.

"I'm really tired of socials, really and truly," he added.

"I would rather just be real in real life. I have seen people come off socials, like Stormzy and Jay-Z don't have it and I feel they are living life peacefully.

"I don't want people to think I am affected because I'm not. We came to the conclusion I needed to jump back on socials and it was important for people to see how I felt, rather than a statement where I thank you for the support and say that cyberbullying is wrong.

"Obviously now I'm back and seeing messages, I said thank you but I didn't want to go into detail. It was a crazy period."

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