Interviewed by the Italian media Wall Street Italia, the president of Naples made a very controversial statement about African players and the CAN.
Known for his very often controversial statements, the president of Naples, Aurelio De Laurentiis, is once again being talked about after an interview with Wall Street Italia. Indeed, in an interview with the Italian media, the Neapolitan leader said that his club would no longer sign African players, because of the organization of the CAN. » Don’t talk to me about African footballers anymore. I won’t take any more, as long as the African Cup of Nations is organized in the middle of the season “, he dropped.
Aurelio De Laurentiis did not stop there, since he made it clear that this new rule for his club would not concern players who agreed to ignore the competition. Words far from being anecdotal, since they are shared by most leaders and coaches of European clubs. For example, during the last CAN which took place in Cameroon, Watford had tried to retain Ismaila Sarr so that he did not compete with the Senegalese selection. Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp was also very reluctant to release his stars, including Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah.
CAF facing its responsibilities
Beyond the controversy and the hurtful tone of the president of Naples, it is important to recognize that a competition as important as the CAN, organized in the middle of the season, harms not only European clubs (which lose several players) but also to African players who have to abandon their club to string together difficult matches without any rest. The tournament itself struggles in part in terms of audience, since it has to compete with very popular championships like the Premier League or even La Liga.
Moreover, CAF is already aware of the situation, as well as it has decided to organize from now on the biggest mass of African football in June. Thus, the CAN 2023 which takes place in Côte d’Ivoire, was initially scheduled from June 23 to July 23, before the apex body of African football postponed the competition to January / February 2024 because of the harsh climatic conditions in the country of Alassane Ouattara.
Far from giving in to pressure from European clubs or federations, CAF must find a way to make its tournament more attractive, and this involves scheduling the competition in an appropriate period for everyone.