Alex Iwobi is in hot waters over his smelly breath antics which he pulled off in Arsenal’s Thursday night 3-0 win over Rennes in the Europa League. After coming on in the second half, Iwobi got into an altercation with Hamari Traore and during the back and forth that followed, the Arsenal player held his nose, an insulting act to imply that the Rennes defender had smelly breath.
On Friday morning and more than 10 hours after the game, Iwobi was still trending on Twitter Nigeria as the incident became fodder for conversations on the social media platform. The reactions have been outright vilification for the Arsenal player.
And deservedly so. What Iwobi did was straight up disrespectful to a fellow professional player and classless too. It is nothing we have come to expect from Iwobi who has been known to always keep a cool head even while on the end of some horrible abuse even from Arsenal fans.
Of a truth, players do try to wind up opposition players to get them sent off, that was what Iwobi tried to do. Indeed, it is known that top players do have icky moments and for a player that has always seemed too nice, it was interesting to see him get nasty.
But that is no excuse for what he did on Thursday night which was crossing the line of sportsmanship and respect. To a fellow professional player, that was downright distasteful.
He did lose his head on Thursday night, also with a kick at Traore during the altercation, that could have gotten him sent off and UEFA might still give him a retrospective ban for that act.
There are several conversations to be had about what Iwobi did on Thursday, but bringing up racism is an overkill.
Conversations about racism are always important as the world continues to figure out better ways of interactions and dealings with the diverse group of people.
But not this time. Holding your nose to imply that someone’s breath is smelly has nothing to do about race. Smelly breath is not a stereotype on black people like Traore. So why pin racism on that act?
A lot of people have urged Iwobi to apologise over the situation but the truth is, he owes no one an apology.
The only person that deserves an apology here is Traore and who knows, they might have sorted the issue out after the game in private.