Footballer Obi Mikel leaves Turkish team over virus fears

John Obi Mikel (Supplied)
John Obi Mikel (Supplied)

Former Nigeria international John Obi Mikel has quit Turkish football club Trabzonspor, the team said, after the former Chelsea midfielder said he did not want to play as the new coronavirus spread worldwide.

"The contract has been ended by mutual agreement with John Obi Mikel," Trabzonspor said in a statement late Tuesday.

The deal between the player and the team had begun on 30 June last year and was meant to last until 31 May 2021.

He criticised the Turkish Football Federation's (TFF) move to let Super League matches continue without spectators, unlike in other countries where games have been suspended.

"There is more to life than football. I do not feel comfortable and don't want to play football in this situation," Obi Mikel wrote on Instagram on Saturday.

"Everyone should be home with their families and loved ones in this critical time. Season should be cancelled as the world is facing such turbulent times," he added.

The 32-year-old played for Chelsea for over 10 years. He retired from international duty after last year's Africa Cup of Nations after making 89 appearances for Nigeria.

The TFF on Tuesday rejected growing calls for matches to be suspended.

Among those opposed to any delay of Super League matches is Trabzonspor chief Ahmet Agaoglu who said any decision to cancel would lead to a rise in divorces.

Trabzonspor - one of the major non-Istanbul-based clubs - are currently at the top of Turkey's Super League. 

Turkey confirmed its first novel coronavirus-related death on Tuesday as the number of cases in the country rose to 98.

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