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Patrick Vieira calls out critics to treat African cup of Nations with respect

Patrick Vieira, head coach of English Premier league side Crystal Palace has joined the debate about the upcoming African Cup of Nations which has become a major topic for discussion. He calls out critics to treat the tournament with respect just like the European Championship. His comments follow the campaign by European clubs pushing FIFA to call off the tournament.

The clubs have written to FIFA arguing out three points as justification for the proposed postponement. These include the protection of the interest of the clubs because of impending competitive matches. This is based on the fact that, some of these European clubs depend heavily on African players. They also cited covid as a reason linked to the “safety” of the players.

However, the AFCON is considered a threat to European clubs due to the quality of players departing. Clubs across Europe will lose the likes of key players such as the Egyptian sensation Mohamed Salah, Guinea’s midfielder Naby Keita, Sadio Mane of Senegal, Riyad Mahrez of Algeria, Chelsea’s Edouard Mendy who is of Senegalese origin.

Others include Ghana’s Thomas Partey, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Gabonese origin, Nicolas Pepe, Wilfried Zaha, Cheikhou Kouyate, Jordan Ayew among others. This will seriously affect the performances of clubs across Europe, hence the relentless efforts from the clubs to stop the tournament.

In sharing his thought, the coach called for respect towards the tournament. “I respect the passion of the African Cup of Nations and will never stop any player going. I believe there should be more respect towards it. Maybe journalists [in Europe] should go to Africa and cover it and then they will understand what it means to the people of Africa”

The coach who during his active days, played his football for Arsenal, Juventus AC Milan and co added that, he “believe that competition has to be more respected because this competition is as important as the European championship.”

Samuel Eto’o, earlier shared his views as he assured that, the tournament will go on as scheduled. In a recent interview, Eto’o said he does not see any “convincing reason to postpone the Africa Cup of Nations. The Euro was played during the pandemic with full stadiums … “They played in many cities in Europe, so why shouldn’t we play in Cameroon? If some think we should postpone the tournament, they need to give a good reason.”

He promised that, he “Will defend with the last energy the holding of this African Cup of Nations […] we are very clear about our commitment to make [the Africa Cup of Nations] a success in Cameroon. […] We will all be present in Cameroon in a few weeks.”

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