Federation demands action over Italian chairman’s Africa comments
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has condemned Napoli chairman Aurelio De Laurentiis for his comments about signing African players and has requested that UEFA open a disciplinary investigation against the Italian.
"Enough with Africans, unless they renounce on playing the African Cup of Nations," the 73-year-old said last week, vowing not to "buy them anymore for that reason" in a nod to the players often missing weeks at a time in winter due to the international competition.
"We pay their salaries to send them all over the world to play for others right in the middle of the season," De Laurentiis added, vowing that his Serie A club would not buy African players anymore unless they agreed not to play in the Africa Cup of Nations – sparking fury on their continent.
Releasing a statement, the CAF claimed that 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 fell under Article 14 of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations.
"CAF therefore urges UEFA to initiate disciplinary investigation against him," the body added, also saying that it was "committed to the role that football plays in Africa, Europe, North and South America, Asia and globally of bringing together and uniting people of different cultures, language groups, races, ethnic groups and religious backgrounds."
Confederation of African Football asks UEFA to "initiate disciplinary investigation against" Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis for his "We won't sign African players unless they waive AFCON" comment.CAF says the comment is "irresponsible and unacceptable." pic.twitter.com/wsqpJAsoLL— Gary Al-Smith (@garyalsmith) August 7, 2022
The CAF said it had "no doubt" that Napoli and UEFA "are as committed as CAF is to these global humanitarian objectives."
But it also asked whether it should "assume that the Chairman of Napoli is going to include similar restrictive conditions to players from South America, Asia and other Confederations prohibiting them from playing in their Continental competitions which are important for the development and growth of football globally."
Last played in January and February 2022, and won by Senegal against Egypt in the final meaning De Laurentiis temporarily lost his best defender in Kalidou Koulibaly who plays for the champions, the Africa Cup of Nations will be contested again at the turn of 2024 in Ivory Coast.
Leaving the club in mid-July to join Chelsea in a £33 million ($40 million) deal, Koulibaly has responded to his former president's remarks and said: "You cannot speak about an African national team like this."
"You have to respect [them] like [the respect] you have for a European team," the imposing center back also demanded.
In the meantime, however, Napoli still boast three African stars in Algeria's Adam Ounas, Cameroon's Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa and Nigeria's Victor Osimhen, who De Laurentiis paid a club record fee of €70 million ($71.2 million) for from Lille in 2020.