Mikel John Obi: Amid coronavirus pandemic, Turkish football season is finally postponed

On Thursday, the Turkish Super Lig was finally postponed, making it the last major division in Europe to take the decision.

Turkey has 191 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and two deaths and had already imposed travel restrictions, closed schools, bars and libraries but football matches continued, albeit behind closed doors.

The league’s continuation led to criticism from several players, notably Nigerian midfielder Mikel John Obi.

And just days after criticizing officials for not postponing the season in the country, Mikel had his contracted terminated with league leader Trabzonspor by mutual consent.

Mikel’s stance over the league continuing to play on was at odds with Trabzonspor chairman Ahmet Agaoglu, who believes the season should still go ahead as any postponement could lead to an increase in divorces in the country.

“Football is the one thing in Turkey that allows people to get rid of their stress, to entertain themselves and to occupy their minds,” Agaoglu said.

“If they suspend the league for a long time, in a month from now there won’t be enough judges to rule on all the divorce cases. We are the leaders right now. Trabzonspor should be declared champions.”

Foreign players, including Galatasaray’s Colombian striker Radamel Falcao, had publicly criticized the decision to continue after Europe’s top five leagues, as well as the Champions League, had all been postponed.

Mikel said he felt uncomfortable continuing to play amid the pandemic and has since returned home to his family in London.

“There is more to life than football,” the 32-year-old wrote on Instagram. “I do not feel comfortable and don’t want to play football in this situation.

“Everyone should be home with their families and loved ones in this critical time. Season should be canceled as the world is facing such turbulent times.”

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