CAF hits out at Napoli president De Laurentiis over African player comments

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The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has launched a stinging condemnation of Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis after he stated he would not sign African players unless they agreed to waive Africa Cup of Nations duties.

Ahead of the new campaign, De Laurentiis angered the continent’s governing body and others when he said he would no longer recruit individuals eligible for the prestigious continental international tournament.

Unlike other major representative events such as the European Championship and Copa America, the AFCON is usually held in the middle of the European season, where many of its stars ply their trade.

This year’s World Cup in Qatar 2022 represents a break from the norm in the mid-season phase, although this was a decision dictated by the weather and the top leagues will be suspended for the competition.

De Laurentiis was widely condemned for his words that he would not bring such a player into the club’s comments, and now the continent’s governing body has also weighed in on the matter.

“CAF is appalled by the irresponsible and unacceptable comments made by the president of Napoli, Mr. Aurelio De Laurentiis, about African players and the African Cup of Nations,” an official statement read.

“By stating publicly that players who sign for Napoli must sign a waiver that forbids participation in the Africa Cup of Nations as a condition of employment, De Laurentiis’ comments are likely to fall under Article 14 of UEFA’s Disciplinary Code.

“CAF therefore urges UEFA to open a disciplinary investigation against him. We have no doubt that Napoli and UEFA are as committed to these global humanitarian goals as CAF.”

“Are we to assume that the Napoli president will include similar restrictive conditions on players from South America, Asia and other confederations, banning them from playing in their continental competitions that are important to the development and growth of football worldwide?”

The next iteration of AFCON is due to be held in January 2024 in Côte d’Ivoire, having been postponed from June and July 2023 due to weather concerns.

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