Home | News    Friday 4 December 2009

Nigerian player in Sudan wants out before next year

December 3, 2009 (KHARTOUM) – A Nigerian player in the top Sudanese club El-Merreikh is planning to leave the country by year end citing cultural and intimidation issues he faced since transferring.

Nigerian footballer Stephen Worgu speaks during an interview with Reuters at his apartment in Sudan’s capital Khartoum November 12, 2009 (Reuters)

The striker Stephen Worgu made the disclosure in an interview with Nigerian sports radio station, Brila FM on Monday.

“I hope to leave Sudan by December,” he said but in another interview with Reuters said that would not move to another club in Africa.

In 2008 Worgu was top scorer of the CAF Champions League with 13 goals and was approached by several European and African clubs including Egypt’s Al-Ahly, but opted to move to Sudan after El-Merreikh made him a $1 million offer which raised eyebrows locally.

However, the Christian player was recently a center of a controversy after being sentenced last month to 40 lashes in Sudan after being convicted of drunk driving.

Worgu dismissed the charges as false saying that given the locally made alcoholic beverage he was accused of consuming is of “cheap” nature inconsistent with the money he makes.

“They say I drank araki ... I asked my lawyer what is araki? He said it is a local drink that contains alcohol," said the footballer. "The lawyer was like saying this guy earns good money how he can drink araki?" a cheap local drink.

He also accused the major rival club of El-Merreikh of being behind the plot.

“Some top officials and fans of Al Hilal are bent on pulling me down. Their grudge is that I signed for a rival club,” Worgu told Nigerian sports newspaper Sports Day.

"They wanted me to sign for them, but they did not meet my demands and ever since then, they have been witch hunting me” he added.

The Public Order Police (POP) crackdown on breaches of laws relating to decency and maintaining the peace came into the spotlight after this year’s high-profile conviction of Sudanese U.N. official Lubna Hussein, who was briefly jailed for wearing trousers in public.

Last week a Christian Southern Sudanese teenager Silva Kashif was arrested while walking to the market near her home in the Khartoum suburb of Kalatla.

Her mother Jenty Doro told Reuters that Khashif was taken to Kalatla court where she was convicted and punished by a female police officer in front of the judge.

"I only heard about it after she was lashed. Later we all sat and cried ... People have different religions and that should be taken into account," she said.

The family is planning to file a lawsuit against the police for clearing her daughter’s name and receive compensation.

Under the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) a commission for the rights of Non-Muslims in the capital is tasked with defending the interests of Southerners living in the capital governed by Islamic Shari’a law.

However, observers say that the commission has been ineffective in carrying out its mandate.