Chelsea defender, Kalidou Koulibaly, has hit out at Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis, accusing him of a lack of “respect” towards African players.
He was reacting to remarks made by De Laurentiis, that he would not sign African players in future if they want to play in the African Cup of Nations.
Senegal captain Koulibaly, 31, has now called for football to treat AFCON with the same respect as European competitions.
Koulibaly said: “It’s up to him. For me, the most important thing is to respect everybody. I always respect everybody. When I played there I was playing also for Senegal, and I won AFCON when I was playing at Napoli.
“It’s true it was a difficult moment for them when we went to AFCON, but we won it and I’m really happy today.
“We have to respect the national teams also. You cannot speak about an African national team like this, I think.
“You have to have respect as you have for the other national teams. As captain of Senegal, I think it’s not a good way to speak about an African national team, but I respect what he thinks. If he thinks the team can play without African players, it’s up to him.
“But I think not everyone in the club has the same idea as him. I know everybody over there, I know the supporters and the supporters don’t think like this.
“It’s up to him, but it’s not an idea of the society of the city, because the city is really respectful. This is what he thinks, not what the city is thinking or the society is thinking.
“It’s the most important thing, and everybody has to give us respect like we give respect to everybody. You cannot speak about an African national team like this. You have to have respect us like you do a European team.”