5 January 2021
Napoli and Nigeria forward Victor Osimhen, who was filmed dancing with people after traveling to his maskless birthday party in Nigeria, should not be judged as harshly as someone who had gone clubbing in Ibiza, his agent has claimed.
Record signing Osimhen caused fury at the Serie A club after footage emerged of his antics in Lagos, where he was filmed celebrating his birthday without any social distancing or use of protective equipment.
After testing positive for Covid-19 following his return to Italy, the 22-year-old said he “didn’t understand the severity” of his actions and was condemned by the Europa League contenders.
“I am so sorry for what happened,” rising star Osimhen said on Instagram, apologizing after following in the footsteps of several Premier League players, including three Tottenham stars, who have become embroiled in scandals by flouting guidelines over Christmas and New Year.
“I was wrong to go to Nigeria in this moment, even if I have many loved ones over there, including my brothers. I was wrong to take part in the party.”
The Nigeria international’s agent, Roberto Calenda, opted to argue that his client’s conduct would have been worse had he frequented a club on the Mediterranean party isle of Ibiza.
“He was naive but you also need to know the context to get a complete picture of the issue,” his representative told Il Mattino.
“He was alone for a long time; he lost his father and things got even worse with the [dislocated shoulder] injury.
“He hadn’t seen his family for months and when he got home, they threw him a surprise party for his birthday.
“It’s OK to judge the mistake, but please don’t consider it as if he went to Ibiza to the disco. Having said that, he made a mistake and apologized to everyone.”
Osimhen scored twice in his first six appearances for Napoli but has missed their last ten matches and will not have played for at least two months by the time he is in contention to return to first-team action.
“When I made a mistake, [Italy World Cup winner] Marcello Lippi used to say he’d let me stew in my own juices for a while, to recognize what I’d done,” Napoli coach Gennaro Gattuso told Sky Sport Italia.
“That’s what Osimhen has to do now. He has already apologized. He’s a lad who gives his all when working. He made a silly mistake, he knows that.
“I am a coach. I don’t decide fines, especially as I was the one who gave the all-clear for him to return to Nigeria and so both of us were left embarrassed by what happened. He made a mistake and he will pay what he needs to pay.”
A version of this report appeared on RT, the Russian state-owned channel.