Nigerian fans gathered at the World Cup in Russia are calling reports they requested they be allowed to bring live chickens into stadiums “ridiculous,” ESPN reports.
Reports of the alleged request began circulating ahead of Nigeria’s game against Croatia last Saturday, and were stoked by a statement on the matter by Andrei Yermak, a Russian minister for culture and tourism.
“It was explained to the fans that according to safety regulations, it is not permitted to enter the stadium with live animals,” Yermak said.
Nigerian supporters, however, are wondering just what “fans” Yermak spoke to.
Rafiu Ladipo, president of the Nigerian Eagles Supporters Club, called the reports “ridiculous,” adding, “The only thing we carry are our musical instruments and we pray. Prayer is the only charm we have. Why should we need a chicken?”
Ahead of the World Cup, soccer fans and FIFA officials alike worried about incidents of racism during the festivities.
Although the officials’ worst fears have proven to be unfounded so far, Ladipo seemed to suggest the reports were born of racist stereotypes.
“Maybe someone just wanted to deceive [the tournament officials],” Ladipo said.
It is clear Yermak took reports of the chicken request seriously.
According to Reuters, he was determined to show Russia is an accepting place. In speaking with Russian news outlet Interfax, Yermak said (while managing to throw just a little shade), “We will of course advise [Nigerian fans] where to buy a chicken. We are ready to meet the most eccentric requests.”
Vincent Okumagba, who leads another Nigerian soccer fan organization, said, “We would never make such a request, and we never did.”
Putting things as plainly as he could, Okumagba added, “We do not take chickens into the stadium.”
So no, Nigerian fans did not bring any chickens, and did not ask to bring any chickens into the Croatia match. There also will be no poultry present for the country’s redemption game against Iceland, which the team must win in order to advance in the tournament.
What Nigerian fans will have on them, however, is what many are calling the best kit of the Cup: dope white, green and black jerseys designed by Nike.
Nigeria have officially released their brand new nike home kit for the World Cup. 😍— World Cup 2018 (@WCGoalz) June 1, 2018
Nikes new nigeria kit 🔥 🔥 pic.twitter.com/8LUA3JccGh— caprice (@iqbaleshukor) June 13, 2018
This is the queue at Nike Town for the Nigeria kit launch, literally round the corner... pic.twitter.com/K3vzfL6psR— Carl Craigslist (@conroy_bumpus) June 1, 2018
This Nigeria jersey is definitely the best jersey not only in the world cup but in the history of football.— Miracle_addict (@miracle_addict) June 13, 2018
This beautiful family rocking the Nigerian jersey is one the cutest thing ever.
#Bbnaija #fifaworldcup #NGA #Russia #Superesgles #Nike pic.twitter.com/H8dRTW95qH
9:00 - Nike release Nigeria's new World Cup 2018 kit 🇳🇬— 8Fact Football WC 🏆 (@8Fact_Footballl) June 1, 2018
9:03 - Nike announce that they have SOLD OUT of Nigeria kits 🔥 pic.twitter.com/zhP3EY37w3