Playing for their countries at the Africa Cup of Nations is a thing of pride for African players but Businessman Aurelio De Laurentiis has a different opinion on this .
The Napoli owner while speaking at by Wall Street Italia condemned the winter scheduling of the AFCON . De Laurentiis is quoted to have said he will only sign African players if they agree to ignore the AFCON .
His comments has received a backlash from some Africans who view it as an attempt to further reduce the value of the Africa Cup of Nations.
This writer understands De Laurentiis concerns about the effects losing their players in the middle of the season for this tournaments and will suggest a position of mutual respect for Napoli and African countries .
A POSITION OF MUTUAL RESPECT
The position that best suits the situation Is for current African players at the club Victor Osimhen and Andre- Frank Anguissa to leave the club before the AFCON .
This will save this players , their countries and Napoli from any disagreements and tussle for the release of players for the AFCON with the next edition billed for January 2024 in Ivory Coast .
Aurelio De Laurentiis has within his business rights openly declared his stand on this, so anyone trying to tempt him is looking for trouble between the Italian club and the relevant Football rules which are not in support of his position .
The Napoli President’s comment offers a line of choice for every African player to respect so as to avoid country vs club dispute such as the Nigeria Vs Watford , Senegal vs Watford and Nigeria vs Al Shabab disputes over the release of Emmanuel Dennis , Ismaila Sarr and Odion Ighalo for the 2021 AFCON .
WHAT DE LAURENTIIS SAID
Laurentiis said ” I told the lads, don’t talk to me about Africans anymore,!”
“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 id*ots who pay salaries only to send them all over the world playing for others.”
REMEMBER JURGEN KLOPP
Not just De Laurentiis , Jurgen Klopp also had knocks for his ” little tournament ” description of the AFCON In January, though the German manager clarified his comments at a later press conference.
He said ” It’s not even close to the idea in my mind that I want to talk about AFCON as a little tournament, or the continent of Africa like a little continent, not at all. ”
The German tactician claimed he was expressing his frustration over the winter scheduling of the AFCON with Liverpool Fc losing key men Mohamed Salah, Baby Keita and Sadio Mane for the 2021 AFCON in January 2022 .”
REASON FOR WINTER SCHEDULING OF THE 2023 AFCON
The 2019 AFCON was held in the summer as CAF attempted to yield to calls for a shift before the special circumstances (COVID-19) led to the hosting of the 2021 edition in January 2022 .
In July 2022, CAF annouced a shift of the 2023 edition in Ivory Coast from June 2023 to January 2024 due to weather concerns .
CAF said hosting the competition in the summer will be disrupted by the heavy rainfall expected in the former french colony in June/July .
Until CAF is able to find a solution to hosting the AFCON during the football season , i will back African players to seek clarification from clubs before signing contracts to avoid a clash of interest .
For example, Victor Osimhen is the leading striker for Nigeria’s Super Eagles . The youngster risks missing the 2024 AFCON in Ivory Coast if he remains at Napoli when the tournament gets underway in January 2024 .
Osimhen should therefore take advantage of the three transfer windows preceding the tournament to move elsewhere to avoid a movie scene with 73 year old Italian movie producer De Laurentiis .
De Laurentiis is just one of many club owners who are not happy with the winter scheduling of the AFCON .
This writer believes his decision to speak up is the best and affords Africans a choice to LEAVE NOW or agree to his business terms.