The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has condemned Napoli president, Aurelio De Laurentiis, after he stated he would not sign African players unless they agreed to not honour Africa Cup of Nations duties.

Prior to the start of the new season, De Laurentiis enraged the continent’s governing body and others by declaring that he would no longer sign players who were qualified for the renowned continental showpiece.

The AFCON has been held in the middle of the European season, where many of its stars play their professional football, unlike other significant representative tournaments like the European Championship and Copa America.

The Italian warned that unless African players sign an agreement dropping out of the Africa Cup of Nations, the Serie A club will not hire players from the continent. As a result, Caf has requested that De Laurentiis face disciplinary action from Uefa.

“Caf is appalled by the irresponsible and unacceptable remarks made by Napoli president, Mr. Aurelio De Laurentiis, on African players and the Africa Cup of Nations,” the statement by the African body read.

“By publicly declaring that players who sign for Napoli must sign a waiver denouncing participation in the Africa Cup of Nations as a condition of employment, De Laurentiis’ comments are likely to fall under Article 14 of the Uefa disciplinary regulations. Caf, therefore, urges Uefa to initiate a disciplinary investigation against him.”

Caf questioned whether Napoli’s president would limit the movement of players from countries other than Africa while stressing the unique uniting function football plays in the world.

“Caf is committed to the role that football plays in Africa, Europe, North and South America, Asia, and globally in bringing together and uniting people of different cultures, language groups, races, ethnic groups, and religious backgrounds,” the statement added.

“We have no doubt that Napoli and Uefa are as committed as Caf is to these global humanitarian objectives.

“Are we to assume that the Chairman of Napoli is going to include similar restrictive conditions for players from South America, Asia, and other confederations, prohibiting them from playing in their continental competitions, which are important for the development and growth of football globally?

“The African Cup of Nations is the flagship competition of the African continent and one of the leading global football competitions. Its last edition in Cameroon was shown in more than 160 countries and attracted more than 600 million viewers.”

Ivory Coast will host the next AFCON in January 2024 after it was postponed from June and July 2023 due to weather issues.