Napoli president vows not to sign any African players participating in AFCON
Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has claimed the Italian club will no longer be signing African players until they agree to the condition which says they will not participate at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).
Laurentiis’s remarks comes on the backdrop of criticism directed at the most prestigious African biennial competition for clashing with most leagues in Europe in terms of its dates.
The clash has resulted in several key African players plying their trade in the European continent returning to represent their nations for the tournament.
Former Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly and midfielder Andre Zambo Anguissa missed several Napoli games between January and February this year when they were on international duty at the 2021 AFCON tournament that was held in Cameroon.
Koulibaly represented Senegal who were the winners of the competition after beating Egypt on penalties while Zambo Anguissa was with the hosts Cameroon.
Speaking during a streamed event, Napoli’s president as quoted by Football Italia said: “I told them lads, don’t talk to me about Africans anymore!”
He added: “I love them, but either they sign something confirming they’ll back out of playing the Africa Cup of Nations, or otherwise between that tournament, the World Cup qualifiers in South America, these players are never available!
“We are the idiots who pay salaries only to send them all over the world playing for others.”
Before Laurentiis’s recent remarks, initially there was a dispute between African players, their respective European clubs together with their country’s football federations.
Multiple reports suggested that a number of European teams refused with African players and one example is of the English side Watford FC who denied to release Nigerian international attacker Emmanuel Dennis.
At the same time, unverified reports also indicated that some of the African players faked injuries and excused themselves to take part at the tournament.
According to the reports (unverified) these decisions made by African players were taken in order to save their jobs and lengthen their stay with their financially strong European teams.