Arsenal legend and Crystal Palace boss Patrick Vieira demands Africa Cup of Nations is shown more respect
PATRICK VIEIRA wants the Africa Cup of Nations to be shown more ‘respect’.
The tournament is set to take place next month, with a number of Premier League stars set to travel.
This has caused ire with some Prem bosses, with Jurgen Klopp in particular unhappy.
But Vieira has no issue with letting his players travel for the tournament.
The Senegal-born former Arsenal star said: “I respect and understand the passion and the importance to players to go and represent their country so I will never stop any player going to play the Africa Cup of Nations.
“I believe that that competition needs to be more respected – because this competition is as important as the European Championships.”
Frenchman Vieira is set to be without Cheikhou Kouyate, Jeffrey Schlupp, Jordan Ayew and Wilfried Zaha during the tournament.
He has also challenged European journalists to provide more coverage of Africa’s showpiece event.
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The 45-year-old added: “It might be important for you guys to cover the Africa Cup of Nations a little bit more and to go to Africa and interview people to really understand what it means for every single one of them.
“When you are talking about Senegal I don’t think people would really understand if (Sadio) Mane or Cheikou Kouyate didn’t represent their nation.
“If there was more coverage of that competition I think people will understand more how important it is for the African continent.”
Klopp, 54, enraged a number of people last month when he said: “I’ve heard that so often that there’s no international break until March.
“In January, there’s a little tournament in Africa, I just want to say, and I think Asia is playing games, too – South America as well, great, can’t wait.”
But the German later explained that he was being ‘ironic’: “It’s not even close to the idea in my mind that I want to talk about Afcon as a little tournament, or the continent of Africa like a little continent, not at all.
There’s still a tournament. A big one. We lose our best players to the Africa Cup of Nations
“What I meant is, because people said, and if you watch the full press conference, if you wanted to understand it in the right way you could have understood it in the right way.
“I said ‘there’s no international break anymore until March’ and I said: ‘Oh and there’s a little tournament in January,’ and I didn’t mean a little tournament, just like you say it when there’s still a tournament. It’s ironic.
“There’s still a tournament. A big one. We lose our best players to the Africa Cup of Nations.
“I’m not a native speaker, but if you want to understand me wrong you can do that all the time. I know that I would never think like this.
“I never understand why you thought like this to be honest, but that’s really not OK, because I would never do that, but that’s it now.”
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