Crystal Palace manager and Arsenal legend, Patrick Vieira has added his voice to the ongoing debate surrounding the reluctance of European clubs to release their African players for the 2022 African Cup of Nations (AFCON), saying he would never dream of stopping a player from representing his country at the forthcoming African tournament.
Patrick Vieira insisted that the African Cup of Nations is just as important as any European competition and so African players must be allowed to represent their countries.
Some European countries have criticized the timing of the African Cup of Nations with a threat of a fourth wave of the corona virus deepening concerns, with rumours even suggesting that European clubs will unite in preventing their African players from participating in the African Cup of Nations
Patrick Vieira whose team has three pivotal players being African in, Wilfried Zaha, Cheikhou Kouyate and Jordan Ayew, having to leave for Ivory Coast, Senegal and Ghana respectively to participate in the African Cup of Nations tournament, he has said that he would never stop a player from going to the AFCON.
“I respect and I understand the passion and importance of those players to go and represent their country,” Vieira said on Palace’s official website.
“I will never stop any players going to the Africa Cup of Nations. I believe that competition has to be more respected because this competition is as important as the European Championship.
“With Senegal, I don’t think people understand [Sadio] Mane or Cheikhou Kouyate not representing their nation. If there was more coverage, people will understand how important it is for the African continent.”