This story is about the old (ego, honor, pride) and the new (globalization, tone deafness and, yes, social media). Oh, and unnecessary self-harm. It’s also about a masked superhero whose face adorns a city, and a merciless club owner who doesn’t like (or admit to) taking orders. And it’s another reminder that the world can be a very small place.
At 24, Victor Osimhen arguably has a case for being the greatest Napoli player since Diego Armando Maradona — alongside Gonzalo Higuain and Edinson Cavani, but few others. This is his fourth season at the club, and last year, he scored 31 goals in all competitions as he helped Napoli to the quarter-finals of the Champions League and their first Serie A title in 33 years (just their third).
He earns around €9 million per season (just shy of $10 million) and his contract expires in June 2025, which is why Napoli and Osimhen’s agent spent much of the summer trying to work out an extension to avoid free agency, albeit without success. .
The sticking point? According to multiple sources, they are not far off in terms of money; Rather, it’s the size of the release clause (probably north of nine figures) to insert into his contract.
Osimhen, as you would expect, wants a low so that a Real Madrid or Manchester United move is not priced out. Napoli would rather not keep one, but if it’s a deal-breaker, they arguably want a bigger one, not least because they paid €80m ($84m) to sign him from Lille in 2020. (However, that deal and Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis — in a completely unrelated but equally strange story — An investigation is said to be underway by prosecutors in Rome for “false accounts”).
That context is important because it means Osimen went into the season without a new contract, and Napoli’s poor start to the season under new coach Rudi Garcia didn’t help his nerves.
Things came to a head on Sunday when Bologna and Napoli drew goalless. Osimhen, who had earlier hit the woodwork and missed a penalty, was replaced five minutes from time by another centre-forward, Gio Simeone. As he approached the bench, a visibly frustrated Osimen scolded Garcia and asked loudly why they couldn’t play with two strikers as they tried to win. It was a blatant act of defiance by a star player, and Garcia behaved the way under-fire coaches do in situations like this: He pretended not to notice and didn’t react at all.
Osimen later apologized to his coach and his teammates, and all seemed well… until Tuesday, when a pair of TikTok videos posted on the club’s official account went viral. They have been deleted, however Posts like this oneWhich allows them to combine back to back, so you can see what incense Osimhen and will leave the rest of the world wondering what the club was thinking.
Both clips lasted less than 15 seconds. The first featured pictures of the striker with a coconut to the tune of: “I’m not a boy… I’m not a girl… I’m a coconut.” The second featured footage of Osimhen asking for and then missing a penalty against Bologna, accompanied by screamed, fast-up audio of someone appealing for a penalty.
Osimhene’s agent, Roberto Calenda, quickly issued a statement saying the videos were unacceptable, that they “caused very serious damage to the player” and that he reserved the right to take legal action. Picture of him in a Napoli kit He has disappeared from his own social media accounts in protest
Most of the world scratched their heads and wondered what on earth would prompt Napoli to troll their most popular player, let alone in a way that some saw as racist. The club said nothing, but filtered out an explanation, one that would probably make little sense to anyone over the age of 21: The coconut video (which appeared before the missed penalty) was not offensive, nor should it be racist. It’s a the meme (a trend) on TikTok and Napoli’s account has released a series of videos over time that have turned players into popular “Trending” this is The departed Hirving “Chucky” Lozano is seen. I don’t get the appeal of this, and if you’re not a TikTok user, you probably won’t either. But to the audience Napoli’s TikTok account was trying to reach, it clearly meant something different.
Napoli made a similar argument about the video of the penalty miss. “Speed-up audio” is, apparently, “a thing” on TikTok. (Again, if you’re a TikTok user, you already know this, and I apologize, but a lot of people of legal drinking age have no idea about this stuff.)
It’s an explanation, but not a justification, because you can’t justify something so stupid. Juxtaposing an African man with a coconut (a racist term in some parts of the world) is bound to rub you the wrong way in many parts of the world by users unfamiliar with your medium. Giving your star player a shouty voice and posting more about his penalty misses — most will think you’re cruelly mocking him, and it doesn’t take a genius to realize that. And while it’s gone down better in the TikTok community, it’s only going to be a matter of time before it makes its way to the wider world.
Lawrence: Osimen contract deadline now ‘too complicated’ for Napoli
Julien Lawrence explains why Napoli’s social media posts mocking Victor Osimen couldn’t have come at a worse time.
Club social media accounts are essentially, marketing weapons. Far from burning the club’s image, these posts tarnished it in the wider world, regardless of intent, and they angered Osimen, which was the last thing the club wanted. Still, the forward acted like a professional and a leader when called upon to play against Udinese on Wednesday. The fans gave Osimhen a standing ovation — and cheered for Garcia despite the fact that he was not in charge of the club’s TikTok account — and when Napoli were awarded a penalty in the first half, he let Piotr Zielinski take it. Moments later, Osimen scored to make it 2-0 and his celebrations were muted, even after Mario Rui jumped into his arms.
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So what happens next?
On the surface, it’s simple. The fans did their part: while some may have felt Osimen overreacted, they showered him with love and affection when he stopped on the pitch. for the club, The formal apology came 48 hours later While giving a mini-speech about how social media uses “expressive language” in a “light and playful way”, the club clarified how it “never intended” to mock or offend him. Still, it concludes, “If Victor is unhappy in any way, it was not the club’s intention.”
It feels a bit flat, especially since they know full well that he was unhappy: otherwise, why would he threaten his representative with legal action?
In some ways, more important than what the club does officially is how De Laurentiis interacts with Osimen personally. Most likely, he only found out about the videos after Osimen did, but it was his club and his staff who released them. Buck stops with him, and it is important that he feels some sympathy for Osimen, otherwise the faith will not be repaired. And no matter how much fans love him — and vice versa — his boss, ultimately, is De Laurentiis. And if you don’t trust your boss — plus you have the luxury of not working for him in a few months — why would you want to stick around?
As for Osimen, he should move on if He felt ready to do so. If not forgive, at least forget. The best thing he can do for himself is to continue producing on the pitch. It will give him what he wants: options, specifically the option to end his contract or extend it or do whatever he wants. Napoli fans have made it clear how they feel about him and that’s important too.
The problem is that it runs deep, beyond the surface. All sides involve pride, and if you’re honest with yourself, sometimes it can’t be ignored. If bitterness means Osimene does not extend his contract, a January exit awaits him. After all, he’ll have no problem finding suitors: you won’t find a better centre-forward anywhere, unless he’s over 25 or named Erling Haaland.
It wouldn’t just be a shame for Napoli and their fans; It will also be remembered as the most unnecessarily boneheaded act of self-harm in recent history.