Senegal coach Aliou Cisse has advised Napoli not to sign any African players, in the wake of Aurelio De Laurentiis’ comment about the Africa Cup of Nations.
The Parthenopeans president continues to get criticised for his controversial remarks about the biennial football competition.
On Monday, the Confederation of African Football condemned the ‘irresponsible’ remarks made by De Laurentiis, and called on European counterpart UEFA to open a disciplinary investigation against the 73-year-old.
Speaking to BBC Sport Africa, Cisse said:
A football player can play for 12 teams, say, but will only have one national team.
Clubs will never be above our flag and our national teams. And every Senegalese who play in Europe, wherever he will be, if he is competent I will call him to defend the colours of the nation.
I have a lot of respect for [De Laurentiis] but I challenge them to try to not recruit African players.
The former Paris Saint-Germain player narrated a negative attitude towards Afcon when he travelled to an unnamed European club to convince a player to represent the reigning African kings.
I met the coach and the sporting director and then they told me, kindly, extremely politely, ‘Your competition is great but to be honest we don’t care. What we care about is to have this boy at the end of the season because he represents 25 million euros to play in the Champions League’.
I can understand, I am not shocked at all. But they can understand that when the nation is within its rights, we are allowed to call [up] our players.
They can believe what they want but they should let us organise things as we want.
Although he questioned De Laurentiis for not taking the same view of players from other continents such as South America or Asia, he suggested a panacea that could prevent this kind of conversation in the future.
Why should the debate exist only when it comes to African players?
When a Brazilian is needed by his federation, there is no debate. And yet we are five hours away from Europe. In South America, they are 17-18 hours away from Europe – but there is no debate.
Clubs should discuss and share ideas with these players to find the best solution to help both national teams and clubs.
We aren’t fighting the clubs. I’ve spent seven years here, I have always tried to have a good collaboration with the clubs.