Orion Ighalo has said he will walk off the pitch if he is subjected to any more racial abuse in his career as he called for “justice to be done” following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Ighalo is at United on loan from Shanghai Shenhua and he said that he was called “all sorts of names” by an opposition player in China. He reported the allegations of abuse to the Chinese FA but then did not “press forward” with the incident.
The death of Floyd in the US has triggered global protests, with many sports teams and stars across the world issuing powerful anti-racist messages in recent days. Tyrone Mings, the Aston Villa and England defender, joined a Black Lives Matter protest in Birmingham last week.
Ighalo, who last week sealed his loan extension at United, told Sky Sports: “If it [racial abuse] happens to me I would report it to the referee and see what they do, but if they don’t take action about it then I’m going to walk off because it should not be done to any player or anyone in the world.
I got called all sorts of names and after the game, I didn’t shake his hand. I walked straight into the dressing room. I was angry. I reported it to the FA. I didn’t press forward with it, I just let it go because I’m just this kind of guy. I don’t like to drag issues out. But I don’t think it should be condoned in any country.
“Nobody should condone racism. We are all human. Despite the colour of our skin, we are all the same, we live in the same world, the same life. I don’t condone racism, but at the same time, I don’t condone riots.
Ighalo has scored several times on his loan deal at Manchester United CREDIT: Dave Thompson/AP
“It didn’t start today. It’s not going to end today. It’s going to take time. We are hoping this situation can change the narrative and make it more limited. It’s going to reduce it to a minimum.
“We are fighting now so that for the next generation it will be cut off, finally. We have to start from the younger generation, educate them, let them see that all humans are the same. We should fight for humanity not colours.”
In the US, the National Football League has admitted it has been at fault for not listening to its players denouncing racism in the past. The NFL had previously banned players from kneeling in protest during the national anthem following protests started by Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback.
“It has been a difficult time for our country, in particular black people in our country,” said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. “We, the National Football League, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people.
“We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the National Football League, believe black lives matter.
“Without black players there would be no National Football League and the protests around the country are emblematic of the centuries of silence, inequality and oppression of black players, coaches, fans and staff.
“We are listening, I am listening, and I will be reaching out to players who have raised their voices and others on how we can improve and go forward for a better and more united NFL family.”
By Sam Dean