Super Eagles defender Leon Balogun has expressed solidarity with Porto forward Moussa Marega who walked off midway through his side’s win at Vitoria Guimaraes after being subjected to racist abuse from fans.
Marega, 28, scored a 60th-minute goal that would prove the winner in Porto’s 2-1 victory.
Nine minutes after his goal, the Mali striker gestured angrily in the direction of home fans and started to walk towards the dugouts in response to racist chanting from the stands.
Staff from the dugouts, opposition players and team-mates including Alex Telles, Sergio Oliveira and Ivan Marcano all tried to stop Marega walking off the pitch, grabbing the striker around the waist – but he pushed everyone aside on his way to the tunnel and was eventually substituted.
Reacting to a clip of the incident on Twitter, Balogun applauded Marega’s decision to walk off but condemned the striker’s teammates lack of support for the decision which he said must have made the Malian feel “like the loneliest person in that moment”.
The defender who completed a loan move to Champions strugglers Wigan Athletic from Brighton said Marega’s actions amounted to “standing up, not just against those idiots but your team mates as well”.
“He must have felt like the loneliest person in that moment,” Balogun tweeted. “Let down by his team mates! I don’t know if you see this my brother @marega91 but I stand with you. Respect for walking off and standing up, not just against those idiots but your team mates as well! #MaregaTheBrave.”
Porto boss Sergio Conceicao also condemned the incident saying: “We are a family regardless of nationality, skin colour, hair colour. We are human, we deserve respect. What happened here is unfortunate.
“We are completely indignant about what happened. I know the passion that exists for Vitoria and I think most of the fans do not see themselves in the same attitude of some people who have insulted Moussa since the warm-up.”
Marega spent a season on loan at Vitoria in the 2016-17 campaign, scoring 15 goals in 25 games.