Napoli President Says Club Won’t Sign African Players Unless They Ignore AfCoN, Koulibally Fires Back

Napoli President Aurelio De Laurentiis has said the club would not sign players from Africa unless they agree not to partake in the African Cup of Nations.

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Napoli President Says Club Won’t Sign African Players Unless They Ignore AfCoN, Koulibally Fires Back

defender Kalidou Koulibaly — now at Premier League side Chelsea — and Cameroon midfielder Andre Zambo Anguissa missed several Napoli games while on international duty at this year’s AFCON, which took place between January and February.

“Or they sign a waiver giving up their right to participate to the Africa Cup of Nations tournaments or between AFCON and the championships in South America … I never have them [Napoli players] available,” he said in a Wall Street Italia talk show.

Koulibaly responded to De Laurentiis’ comments in his first news conference as a player and expressed his disappointment.

“The most important thing is to respect everyone,” Koulibaly said. “When I played there I also played for Senegal… You cannot speak of an African team like this.

“You have to have respect like you have for a European team… I respect what he thinks, it’s up to him but I think not everybody has that same idea at Napoli.”

De Laurentiis also criticised the fact that clubs were agreeing to more and more games, suggesting a European tournament with the top clubs from the strongest five countries instead of the Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League.

“The world of football cannot self-manage because we do the puppet show for others … if we could play 100 games, it would be a happy ending for everyone and we [clubs] like cretins agree to that.”

The Italian film producer also said he did not support the breakaway European Super League which folded less than 48 hours after it was announced last year as it was an elite club.

“You cannot create a super club of privileged members invite others [to the league]. You need to democratically keep the door open for everyone,” he said.

De Laurentiis added he was tired of offers from investment funds for the club, adding that he was offered €900 million around four to five years ago by American investors.

“You [bidders] did not understand a thing [about me]. I am a pure entrepreneur enjoys doing business … let me play,” he said.

“I want to be the 12th player on the pitch. Actually the 12th player is the fan, I be the 13th or even the 14th, as 14 is my favourite number.”

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