Arsenal legend Ian Wright believes the Africa Cup of Nations deserves more respect from mainstream media outlets.
As of late, media outlets, especially in the UK, seem to question the value of the tournament in comparison to club football. Even FIFA came under fire for its questionable scheduling of the tournament after postponing it due to COVID-19.
Wright pointed out the media bias surrounding the tournament compared to other international tournaments, namely EURO 2020. He took to Instagram to express his dismay regarding the tournament’s depiction within media.
“Is there ever a tournament more disrespected, more disrespected than the African Cup of Nations? Theres no greater honor, none as a sports person than representing your country.
The coverage is completely tinged with racism, completely tinged. We played our Eruros across 10 countries in the middle of a pandemic and there is no issue no issue at all but Camaroon a single country hosting a tournament is a problem.
Players are being asked� if they will be honoring the call outs for their national teams, if they will be honoring. Imagine if that was an English player representing free lines. Have you ever heard anybody asking an English player if he will be honoring the call up. Could you image the fury?
Loads of the best players in Europe right now are African and if we love them at club level why can�t we love them at international level like they are our counter parts from across the globe.Why is the tournament constantly getting so much flack?”Ian Wright
In the video, Wright acknowledged fellow Arsenal legend and current Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira for sharing the same view regarding the tournament. He also praised Ajax and Ivory Coast striker Sebastien Haller after he expressed similar frustration.
Vieira asked European media to give the tournament better coverage and more respect.
“I believe that that competition needs to be more respected – because this competition is as important as the European Championships.”Patrick Vieira
Haller, on the other hand, responded to questions asking if he preferred club football over his national team.
“This statement shows the disrespect for Africa. Would this ever have been presented to a European player towards a European Championship? Of course I’m going to the Africa Cup of Nations to represent Ivory Coast. That’s the highest honor.”Sebastien Haller
The tournament comes in the middle of arguably Haller’s best career year. He currently leads the Eredivise with 12 goals in 17 matches and similarly tops the Champions League scoring charts with 10 in just six games.
Wright, Vieira, and Haller all share the same sentiment, and for good reason. When compared to the highly popular EURO 2020 tournament, AFCON clearly suffers from misrepresentation and disrespect from the media.
After its postponement due to the pandemic, the tournament now has a set run-time with January 9th as its start date and a final slated for February 6th in Yaounde, Cameroon.