The Department of International Relations and Cooperation has criticised the Nigerian High Commission for advising Nigerians to be careful with their words before, during, and after the semi-final match between the Super Eagles and Bafana Bafana on Wednesday. The department expressed concern that the commission’s statement caused unnecessary tension and alarm for Nigerians living in and visiting South Africa.

By Telegram Reporter

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) has expressed strong disapproval of the Nigeria High Commission in South Africa for its efforts to incite unnecessary concern and tension between South Africans and Nigerians in anticipation of the 2024 Africa Cup of Nations semi-final match.

Dirco was responding to the statement made by the Nigerian commission regarding their advice to Nigerians in South Africa to be cautious with their expressions in case their national team emerges victorious in Wednesday’s semi-final match between the Super Eagles and Bafana Bafana.

The commission earlier issued a statement expressing concern about potentially “inflammatory” online remarks by some South African citizens about Nigerians residing in South Africa.

“The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) has learned about an unfortunate advisory issued by the High Commission of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Pretoria.

“The advisory is regrettable because it seems to create alarm and unnecessary tension between the citizens of South Africa and Nigerians living in or visiting South Africa.

“The South African national soccer team, Bafana Bafana, has played against their Nigerian counterparts, the Super Eagles, on many occasions, and there has been no history of soccer hooliganism among South Africans associated with the outcome of such encounters.

“We are confident that the sports-loving nation of South Africa poses no threat to Nigerian citizens, and we do not agree with the apprehension expressed by the High Commission.

“As we have done in the past with similar alarming advisories, we call on the diplomatic representatives to approach DIRCO to address any concerns about diplomatic matters,” Dirco stated on Tuesday evening.

The Nigerian Commission, in its statement, said: “The attention of the Nigeria High Commission Pretoria has been drawn to potentially inflammatory online comments made by a section of South African citizens against Nigerians living in a host country, largely influenced by the upcoming 2024 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) semi-final match between the Super Eagles and the Bafana Bafana on Wednesday 7th February 2024.

“Most of the comments consist of veiled threats against “Nigerians cooking jollof rice” before the match, and “showing pepper to Nigerians if the Bafana Bafana lose to the Super Eagles”, among others.

“In this regard, the High Commission advises the Nigerian community to be watchful of their utterances, be mindful of where they choose to watch the match, especially in public places and refrain from engaging in loud, riotous or provocative celebrations should the Super Eagles win the match.

“Additionally, Nigerians should maintain the good conduct they are known for, and be law-abiding before, during and after the match. Should any provocations arise, they should not be reciprocated but reported to the appropriate authorities.”

The chairperson of the Gauteng chapter of the Nigeria Union, Olaniyi Abodedele, informed News24 that the statement issued by the commission heightened the tension.

“Football is a unifying game that ignites passion. The match between Bafana Bafana and the Super Eagles is a perfect opportunity for both countries to promote social cohesion and unite citizens.

“As Nigerian supporters, we have gone to the stadium to watch those matches while proudly wearing our Nigerian jerseys and waving our Nigerian flags. We have never experienced any form of attack.

“The Nigerian Union Gauteng has taken advantage of this opportunity by setting up a viewing centre where Nigerians, their partners, and South African friends can watch the game together in harmony and love,” Abodedele told News24.

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