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Football Must Do More To Combat Racism Than The Take Knee, Lukaku Insists

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Romelu Lukaku says football must take “stronger” action in the fight against racism, questioning the impact of players taking the knee before Premier League matches.

Lukaku’s Chelsea team-mate Marcos Alonso this week explained his decision to stop making the gesture, deciding instead to stand and point to the “No To Racism” badge on his shirt.

Last season, Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha stopped taking the knee, labelling it “degrading” and opting to stand instead.

Belgium international Lukaku understands those opinions, pointing to the continuing online abuse aimed at black players.

“I think we can take stronger positions, basically,” Lukaku told CNN Sport.

“Yeah, we are taking the knee but in the end everybody’s clapping but sometimes after the game, you see another insult.”

Lukaku wants high-profile players to sit down with social media bosses and other stakeholders to help tackle the issue of racism on their platforms.

“The captains of every team, and four or five players, like the big personalities of every team, should have a meeting with the CEOs of Instagram and governments and the FA (Football Association) and the PFA (Professional Footballers’ Association), and we should just sit around the table and have a big meeting about it,” Lukaku said.

“I think all of us together, have a big meeting and talk about stuff that needs to be addressed to protect the players.

“If you want to stop something, you can really do it.”

Lukaku was speaking to CNN Sport around the launch of Chelsea’s “No To Hate” photography competition, which is encouraging fans of the club around the world to send in their photos that show the diversity within the Chelsea community.

“I think right now, from the owner to us, the players, we as a club, we are really putting out a statement and taking a position that stuff like that should not be tolerated,” Lukaku said.

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NFF Considers Appointing Eguavoen Permanent Super Eagles Coach

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The Nigeria Football Federation is considering the possibility of appointing Augustine Eguavoen permanent Super Eagles coach.

Eguavoen was named to the post last month in an interim capacity after the NFF fired former coach Gernot Rohr on the eve of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.

The NFF later appointed Portuguese Jose Peseiro as the new head coach of the three-time African champions.

Peseiro is expected to take charge of the team after the AFCON finals in Cameroon.

Eguavoen put himself in the frame for the job after guiding the Super Eagles to three successive wins in Cameroon.

“He is not in Cameroon because we have not signed a contract with him yet,” a member of the NFF executive council who does not want to be named, told ESPN.

“If he had signed a contract, he would have definitely been in Cameroon as planned.”

“We are managing the public trust. So we have to look at what the people want and we also know what we want as well,” added the official.

“What we all agree on is that we want the team to do well, to play good football, to make Nigerians happy and to win trophies.

“It doesn’t matter who the coach is, what matters is the objective. If that objective can be achieved with Eguavoen as we can see now, then why not?

“We removed Rohr because Nigerians were not happy with the play and we were not blind to see that we were not going in the right direction the way we were playing.”

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Win AFCON 2021 Trophy, Get N102m, Otedola Promises Super Eagles

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Billionaire businessman Femi Otedola has promised the Super Eagles the equivalent of $250,000 in naira (N102,895,000) if they win the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.

The Eagles will also receive N49,389,600 ($120,000) for the six goals they scored in the group stage of the ongoing continental showpiece, thanks to the Coalition Against COVID-19.

CACOVID, a private sector-led platform established to assist the government in combating Coronavirus in the country, praised the team for their performance at the AFCON and promised to reward the squad with the naira equivalent of $20,000 for each goal scored in the group stage.

The Eagles finished the group stage with six goals, which amounted to $120,000.

According to Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, who represented CACOVID during a visit to the team’s camp in Cameroon, their impressive group stage performance convinced CACOVID to increase the amount for every goal scored to $50,000 in the round of 16.

“I came with a message from the CACOVID. The CACOVID is the coalition of private-sector companies that was set up to fight COVID-19 in Nigeria and they have been happy with the performance of the team,” Emefiele said in a video posted by the Eagles media department on Thursday.

“During the meeting I had with the captain (Ahmed Musa) and the coach (Austin Eguavoen), I delivered a message from CACOVID and the message is that, for every goal that is scored, the team will receive the naira equivalent of $20,000 so far, you have earned for yourself the naira equivalent of $120,000.

“We held a CACOVID meeting again because everyone is overjoyed for everything you’ve done so far, CACOVID has asked me to raise the ante.

“From the round of 16, for every goal scored, you will earn for yourselves as a team the naira equivalent of $50,000.

“Also, Femi Otedola, who is a member of CACOVID, has asked me to tell you that if you lift the trophy, he has in the bank for you, the naira equivalent of $250,000. This is just the beginning and I can assure you that if you win your round of 16 games, another promise might be made,” Emefiele added.

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Jota Double Fires Liverpool Into League Cup Final

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Diogo Jota fired Liverpool into the League Cup final against Chelsea as the Portugal forward’s double sealed a 2-0 win at Arsenal in the semi-final second leg on Thursday.

Jota put Liverpool on course for Wembley with a first half strike and he clinched their berth with a late second goal in north London.

Jurgen Klopp’s side will face Chelsea in the final on February 27.

Jota’s 13th and 14th club goals this season underlined his value at a time when Liverpool are without Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane due to the African Cup of Nations.

The Reds, who last lifted the League Cup in 2012, are back in the final for the first time since 2016 as they aim to win the competition for a record ninth time.

It will be Klopp’s fifth cup final with Liverpool since he took charge in 2015.

In the week that Liverpool’s former chief executive Peter Robinson died aged 86, it was fitting the club returned to the final of a tournament they won four years in a row under his stewardship in the 1980s.

For Arsenal, it was a frustrating loss after they managed to grind out a 0-0 draw in last week’s first leg at Anfield despite Granit Xhaka’s red card.

Mikel Arteta’s youthful side were exposed by battle-hardened opponents, emphasising the improvements still needed to revive the Gunners.

Thomas Partey’s stoppage-time dismissal for two bookings in quick succession rubbed salt into their wounds.

Arsenal were unable to field a team when they successfully asked for last weekend’s north London derby against Tottenham to be postponed.

But Arteta sent out close to a full strength side just days later as fit-again trio Takehiro Tomiyasu, Emile Smith Rowe and Martin Odegaard all returned.

Caoimhin Kelleher replaced Alisson Becker in goal for Liverpool and quickly repaid Klopp’s faith with a superb save in the fifth minute.

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