CAF condemns remarks made by Napoli president on banning players who take part in AFCON

Aurelio De Laurentiis of Napoli during a press conference on May 30, 2022 in Naples, Italy. (Photo by SSC NAPOLI/SSC NAPOLI via Getty Images)
Aurelio De Laurentiis of Napoli during a press conference on May 30, 2022 in Naples, Italy. /SSC NAPOLI via Getty Images

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has condemned “irresponsible and unacceptable” remarks made by Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis, who said he would not sign African players for his side unless they committed to not playing in the Africa Cup of Nations.

CAF in a statement on Sunday also called on UEFA to investigate the Italian for possible violation of UEFA codes.

De Laurentiis made the remarks in an interview with Smart Talk on Wall Street Italia, where he also discussed the sale of Senegalese defender Kalidou Koulibaly to Chelsea.

“By publicly declaring that players who sign for Napoli must sign a waiver denouncing participation in the Africa Cup of Nations as a condition of employment, De Laurentiis’ comments likely to fall under Article 14 of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations.  CAF therefore urges UEFA to initiate disciplinary investigation against him,” said CAF.

AFCON, Africa’s biggest football competition, is held once every two years, often in January-February.

It has often drawn criticism from foreign coaches who lamented the month-long unavailability of African players whenever the event is held.

In November 2021, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp came under fire for labeling AFCON a “little tournament”, though he later clarified that it was meant as a frustration in an ironic sense and not as an insult to the tournament.

In its statement, CAF questioned whether De Laurentiis would also consider making similar policies against players from South America, Asia and other Confederations.