Kolkata, April 3 (IANS) Retired Nigerian World Cupper Emeka Ezeugo, who has played for city giants East Bengal and Mohammedan Sporting SC, on Tuesday said he wants to extend his support to the Rohingyas who have been living in refugee camps in Bangladesh since last year.
The 50-year-old, who was part of Nigeria’s 1994 World Cup squad, said he wants to organise a run involving India and Bangladesh later this month to raise funds for the 700,000 odd Rohingyas living in cramped conditions.
Furthermore, Emeka said he would organise a football match involving 1994 World Cup team members of Italy, who finished runners-up, and Nigeria alongwith former greats of India and footballers of Bangladesh team.
“Sponsors will come in but that would not be enough to bring all these four teams together.
“Therefore, half of the funds is going be used to bring Nigerian national team, and the Italian national team of 1994 World Cup to play here in India and also in Bangladesh,” Emeka told reporters at the Calcutta Sports’ Journalists Club here. He was flanked by former India captain and goalkeeper Bhaskar Ganguly.
“The match will happen after the World Cup. I might be working for a TV station during the World Cup,” he said.
Asked about how he wants to go about organsing the match and bringing high profile players like then Italy captain, Franco Baresi Paolo Maldini, Roberto Donadoni and Roberto Baggio who were part of the Italian team that lost to Brazil in the final, Emeka said he has spent from his pocket to pay for their appearance fee.
“I’ve already paid more than half of the apperance fees with my own money for the foreign teams. It’s a project that’s a work in progress. The entire team of Nigeria, Italy will be here and I can assure you that,” said Emeka who is the only player to first have a career in India before playing the World Cup.
About the run, Emeka said in a statement that, “running to the aid of Rohingya refugees is my clear and present occupation.”
“I urge every one of you to run with me in solidarity to the aid of Rohingya refugees by also donating Rs 1,000 or 1,000 Bangladeshi Taka in a designated bank account,” he said in a statement shared with reporters during the interaction.
Emeka said he is yet to get in touch with government officials of West Bengal regarding the run which he said will start from Kolkata.
“The moment it starts, all the government officials will want to be part of it. If you know the political issues of Rohingya people, you will also be part of it,” he said.
Talkig about football in India, Emeka, an astute midfielder during his time, said without the big three of Kolkata (East Bengal, Mohun Bagan, Mohammedan Sporting) football cannot survive.
“They are the lungs of football in India. I haven’t watched ISL (Indian Super League) but I can say that without the three Kolkata clubs and their fanbase, no tournament can be successful.”