Kira Destiny Prince, who was born in Nigeria, was thrilled to see its national soccer team, known as the Super Eagles, take a stand against the violence. "A silent protest makes the loudest sound," she said.
"It shows we are united," added her friend Mary Akhimien. Both are lawyers in Delaware.
A spokeswoman for Major League Soccer said it was the first time she had seen player escorts used to send a political message.
The stadium display was organized by Innocent Onwubiko of Upper Darby. Born in Nigeria, Onwubiko, 41, came to the United States in 2000. He has a bachelor's degree in nursing from Drexel University, and dual master's in gerontology and health administration from St. Joseph's University.
He is the founder of Successful Aging Home Health, an agency that trains and supplies home health aides.
In an interview, he said he is an avid fan of the Super Eagles, and hosted a private party for the team at the stadium after the game, a $15,000 affair attended by 250 of his friends and fellow parishioners at St. Cyprian's Church in Philadelphia.
On the menu were Nigerian specialties: pepper soup, egusi soup, and jollof rice.
The party was two months in the planning, Onwubiko said. When the team checked in at the Westin Hotel in Center City last Thursday, Onwubiko approached coach Stephen Keshi with the escort idea.
"I wanted to reflect what is going on in Nigeria and the world at large," Onwubiko said. "It's a war we all need to fight."
The team was consulted and quickly agreed, he said. The escorts, ages 5 to 13, were children from Onwubiko's church.
High in the stands and decked out in a white dashiki and bronze-colored headdress, Adekunle Kayode "Leonardo" Alliu cheered wildly for the Super Eagles. He is the founder and chief executive of United States-Africa Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture Inc., a Philadelphia international trade group.
Alliu said the violence in Nigeria is despicable, but unrest is to be expected because "not a single dime has trickled down" to the people from the ruling class. "The money does not reach the grassroots," he said.
Just at that moment the stadium erupted with a chant: "All we are saying: Give us a goal."
Innocent Onwubiko believes he has.