The African Nations Cup starts this weekend so I think it would be a good time to thank the Arsenal legends Patrick Vieira and Ian Wright for trying to garner more respect towards the tournament.
Vieira, born in Senegal, has suggested that the British media go and visit the continent to learn what the tournament means to that part of the World.
Ian Wright has even accused some attitudes towards the event as “tinged with racism”, asking has there ever been greater disrespect towards a trophy like there has been towards the one Cameroon will be hosting?
This is in the wake of clubs privately and publicly putting pressure on their players not to represent their countries at the AFCON.
Jurgen Klopp had to defend describing the event as a ‘little tournament’, Watford have been accused of ‘baring fangs’ in their successful bid to stop Dennis being called up for Nigeria, Senegal is making similar accusations regarding Sarr. Sebastian Hallen questioned the Dutch Media if he was European would there be any doubt if he would pick his nation over Ajax.
It’s believed that several teams put pressure on FIFA not to send players to Cameroon with cases of COVID rising. As recently as the start of December the assumption was the whole event would be cancelled.
As I write this, warm up fixtures are in doubt due to how many squads are reporting positive COVID results.
Arsenal themselves might not mind 4 of their players travelling as 3 of them need game time, Aubameyang, Pepe and Elneny haven’t been starting.
UEFA were adamant that nothing would stop them changing their format for the Euros, even when common sense said it was safer to reduce the host cities.
Organisers wanted as many locations as possible to stage fixtures, even if it meant an increase in travel and stadiums not at maximum capacity.
With the World Cup in 2022, postponing the European Championship again was out of the question.
CAF have every right to be treated equal by the sport’s governing body.
There would be uproar if Harry Kane was pressured not to play for England in a major tournament, so why is it okay to expect Salah to do the same?
Winning honours with your country are deemed an honour when it’s a Ronaldo. Why not when it’s Mane?
Why can’t we simply respect it’s a moment of pride to represent your flag, and if that means missing a few weeks of your club season then it’s worth it.
Let’s stress that employers know the AFCON is every 2 years so have plenty of time to prepare for it.
If it’s that big an issue simply doesn’t sign African players?
So is Ian Wright correct to suggest that racism might be the reason behind the lack of respect towards the AFCON?
To agree with that, I would need to know what a person is thinking and I don’t have those powers.
It could simply more be a case of ignorance.
If you live in Europe, you will naturally care more about the Euros then another cup on the other side of the world, in which you don’t have an emotional attachment to any one team.
It doesn’t explain why coaches and owners think CAF can be pushed around and not taken as serious as other bodies.
I myself have experienced different reactions to celebrating Africa’s contribution to the sport.
I have previously written lists of best European or English Gunners which seemed acceptable.
Write about the greatest African players to play for Arsenal some readers will blush.
There’s a word for that.
That’s why it’s crucial to educate and celebrate football that goes on around the world.
That’s who the game belongs to …. the world!
Sky Sports broadcasting in the UK will help showcase the event which will help spread awareness.
Aubameyang captains Gabon, Elneny will represent Egypt, Pepe has been selected by the Ivory Coast and Partey has been called up by Ghana, so there will be interest for many Arsenal fans.
Is Ian Wright correct?
Is racism the reason towards the lack of respect towards AFCON?
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