1 GAME founder Philip Obaji has described as “evil” the incident that occurred in Calabar which left a couple of football fans injured after watching the 2012 UEFA Champions League final match between Chelsea and Bayern Munich played in Munich on May 19 saying: “football fans need to understand where their boundaries end.”
The Coordinating team of the 1 GAME: Football without Violence campaign whose objective is to combat violence and fanaticism in football, met with some victims of the ugly incident in a bid to offer moral support as well as ascertain the level of harm done as a result of the fracas.
A few persons were wounded after violence erupted in a local bar in central Calabar at the blast of the final whistle. The victims were paying the price for celebrating along with Chelsea who emerged victorious at the end of the game.
“This is senseless and evil,” Obaji said of the incident that saw two very close friends and colleagues beaten mercilessly by anti-Chelsea supporters who were incensed following the success of the English club on the night.
Obaji added: “It only highlights the existential threat that these kind of ill-mannered supporters pose for football, and underscores why it’s so important that we continue to work together in defeating violence in the game.”
Arikpo Ofem and Sunday Otu, both hair-dressers by occupation and partners in the business needed serious medical attention after they escaped death by whiskers on that fateful night. Their situation happened to be the most delicate of the night as they required stitches to heal their wounds.
Recounting the ordeal, soft-speaking Ofem said he was attacked while celebrating Chelsea’s success just outside the bar and had little idea of how it started.
“All I can remember is that I was outside jumping in excitement when a young man took off his belt and started using it on me. He kept hitting me repeatedly using the head of the belt and maybe something else. I kept screaming and shouting for help but it never came. It was very painful,” he explained.
Narrating his own story, Otu said he was heading out of the bar to join his other colleagues in celebrating the success of Chelsea when a bottle struck him.
The outcome of the 2012 UEFA Champions League final stirred mixed reactions from the football community in Nigeria with reports of celebrations and violence drawn from different areas of the country.