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Napoli president slammed for 'lack of respect' to Africa by Nigeria coach Abdallah

11:17 PM IST 04/08/22
Victor Osimhen Napoli pre-season 2022
The club chief pledged never to sign a player who has committed to featuring at the Africa Cup of Nations

Nigeria assistant coach Usman Abdallah has slammed Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis for showing a "lack of respect" towards Africa with his recent comments about the continent. The club chief stirred up controversy earlier this week as he publicly vowed not to sign any players who would participate in the Africa Cup of Nations.

De Laurentiis said Napoli and other clubs across Europe have been "idiots" for paying full salaries to players that shelve their duties mid-season to take part in the international tournament.

Those comments came despite star Napoli striker Victor Osimhen hailing from Nigeria.

What did De Laurentiis say about Napoli signing African players?

The Serie A club's owner told Wall Street Italia: "I told them, lads, don't talk to me about Africans anymore!

"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."

How has Abdallah responded to De Laurentiis' comments?

Osimhen missed the last edition of AFCON between January and February due to a positive Covid-19 test, but their former captain Kalidou Koulibaly, who joined Chelsea this summer, was part of the Senegal side that won the trophy.

Nigeria coach Abdallah was shocked by De Laurentiis' remarks and is disappointed by the perceived attempt to devalue Afcon from such a high-profile figure in the European game.

“I think he needs to come out, to tell the truth, using the Africa Cup of Nations as a yardstick is not a good excuse,” Abdallah told GOAL.

“Are Napoli players not participating in Uefa Euro, Uefa Nations League and even Copa America? Or are they not the same as Afcon?

“It would have been understandable if he said Napoli’s African players who get injured at Afcon are not well taken care of, or maybe when their players play in the competition, they violate certain rules.

“Even at that, his statement shows a lack of respect for Africa and it is stupid to say that. It is so disheartening that someone of his calibre can make such a statement.

“Some will tag this as racism because he only mentioned Africans and not players from other continents.”

Former Nigeria captain Mutiu Adepoju added to GOAL: "They [Napoli] will be the biggest losers because African players have played a key role in their history.

“Before Kalidou moved to Chelsea, he played a key role for the club. That can be said of [Andre-Frank] Zambo Anguissa down to Osimhen.

"These players have proven that players from Africa are quality.”