Soccer: Napoli Won't Sign Africans Committed to Nations Cup

Soccer: Napoli Won't Sign Africans Committed to Nations Cup
Last updated Aug 09, 2022
Image credit: SSC Napoli/Getty Images [via ESPN]


  • On Tues., SSC Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis declared that the Italian soccer club won't sign African players who agree to play in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).[1]
  • He criticized the fact that the competition takes place in the middle of Europe's top leagues season, which means players are often unavailable despite the club paying their salaries.[2]
  • This comes as last season two key African players - Senegal captain Kalidou Koulibaly and Cameroon midfielder Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa - missed six games while on international duty at the 2021 AFCON, which was held in January and February 2022.[3]
  • Koulibaly has since transferred to Chelsea FC in a $40M deal, while Anguissa accepted a permanent contract with Napoli in May.[4]
  • The African branch of the world players' union FIFPro condemned De Laurentiis statement, saying he should criticize those who design the calendar, not the players.[5]
  • The AFCON finals last for one month every two years, usually beginning in January. Although the 2023 edition was planned to be held in summer, weather conditions in the Ivory Coast have postponed it to January 2024.[4]


Narrative A

AFCON is constantly having to justify its existence, and this needs to change. It's often portrayed as an imposition on European club games, and African players are frequently questioned over their decisions to represent their countries. It's time to give AFCON and its players the respect they deserve.

Narrative B

While AFCON is undoubtedly an important competition, the conflicting schedules are troublesome as African players have become international stars, playing for big clubs in big leagues. It only makes sense to find common ground and appease leagues, owners, and the players by rescheduling the event.

Nerd narrative

There's a 1% chance that Senegal will win the 2022 FIFA World Cup, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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