Aurelio Di Laurentiis, the owner of Italian side Napoli has vowed never to sign an African player unless the said player agrees not to participate in the Africa Cup of Nations.
Aurelio Di Laurentiis in a live-streamed event disclosed his frustrations with the timing of the AFCON, fuming that he would not allow his team to sign any player of African descent.
In quite a furious tone, Laurentiis stated that despite his love for African players, he would not sign them unless they sign an agreement that bars them from participating in the AFCON.
“I told them lads, don’t talk to me about Africans anymore!” said De Laurentiis during a streamed event. 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.”
Laurentiis’ comment has earned him attacks on social media with Africans firing him for denigrating the AFCON and the tournament.
He is the second high-profile person who has been accused of making racial remarks about African players and the AFCON.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp suffered a similar statement when he referred to the AFCON as a ‘little tournament’.
Klopp after a confrontation with a Nigerian journalist clarified that he never meant to disrespect the tournament and the African continent.
“I didn’t mean it like that, come on,” Klopp said. “So I was not even close to it being the idea in my mind that I want to talk about the African Cup of Nations as a ‘little tournament’ or the continent of Africa as a little continent, not at all.
“What I meant was, if you watch the whole press conference then you might have understood it the right way if you wanted to because I said there are no international breaks until March now.
“‘I said ‘oh there’s a little tournament in January’ and I didn’t mean a little tournament, I was just saying it’s still a tournament, it’s ironic. It’s still a tournament, a big one. We lose our best players to that tournament…”
Napoli has Nigeria’s Victor Osimhen and Cameroon’s Anguissa on their books.