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Africa Cup of Nations

Afcon 2021: ‘Tournament coverage completely tinged with racism’ - Wright

11:24 EAT 30/12/2021
2017-03-08 Arsenal Ian Wright
The Gunners legend hits out at those castigating the 33rd edition of the African competition set to kick off on January 9 in Yaounde

Arsenal legend Ian Wright has hit out at those disrespecting the Africa Cup of Nations scheduled for Cameroon from January 9.

The 33rd edition of the African competition has been shrouded in controversy with several clubs across Europe not prepared to release players to represent their respective countries in the competition.

The 58-year-old Wright, who played for the Gunners in the Premier League and managed to score 128 goals from 221 appearances, has cited racism while showing his concerns on questions being posed by journalists to African players ahead of the competition.

In a video posted by Wright on his Tiktok, he posed a question: “Is there ever a tournament more disrespected than the Africa Cup of Nations? There is no great honour, none other than representing your country. The coverage is completely tinged with racism.

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🗣️ African Cup of Nations 2022 🇨🇲

♬ original sound - Ian Wright

“We played our Euros across 10 countries in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic and no issues. Cameroon, a single country hosting the tournament is a problem.

“Imagine a journalist asking players if they will be honouring the call ups for their national teams. Have you ever heard anyone asking Three Lion players if they ever honour a call-up?”

Wright has further reminded clubs in Europe that some of the best players in their leagues are currently Africans.

“Some of the best players in Europe right now are Africans. If we love them at our clubs, why not love them at their national teams across the globe,” Wright continued.

Wright, who also played for West Ham United in the Premier League, also hailed Ivory Coast striker Sebastien Haller for taking his stand of representing the African nation at Afcon at the expense of Ajax and also Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira for supporting the same.

“Why is this tournament constantly getting so much flak? Shout outs to countries that have qualified and players like Sebastien Haller who has taken a stand against the media backlash plus Patrick Vieira,” Wright added.

“Vieira coming out and speak about it. And being a black manager, people can understand where his roots are and how important this tournament is to African people. This shame has gone on for too long.”

“That’s why I wish Cameroon all success in hosting this tournament and like I said to the players, all the very best and the fans.”

Asked whether he will stay to honour Ajax matches against FC Utrecht away and PSV Eindhoven, Haller said: “This statement shows the disrespect for Africa. Would this ever have been presented to a European player towards a European Championship?”

“This tournament was actually supposed to be held in the summer but was postponed due to corona. Of course, I will go to the Africa Cup of Nations to represent Ivory Coast. That is the highest honour.

“And of course, I would have liked to have taken the plane in between to be able to play against FC Utrecht and PSV, but that is simply impossible.

“This situation is very frustrating. I hate having to choose between my country and my club. That's really shit. I play with Ajax for the title and those two matches are very important because they influence the ranking.

The competition will see hosts Cameroon play the opening match against Burkina Faso at Stade Omnisport Paul Biya, Olembe on January 9 before Ethiopia take on Cape Verde in the second fixture.