Kalidou Koulibaly Hits Back At Napoli President’s Controversial Ban On Signing African Players

Kalidou Koulibaly has responded to Napoli president’s controversial ban on signing African players at the Serie A club.

President Aurelio De Laurentiis hogged the limelight, leaving the football fraternity divided after stating that his club will no longer sign African players who turn out to represent their nations during the Afcon tournament.

The 75-year-old president stated that his club can’t continue paying African players lots of money when during the peak of the season, they leave to represent the interests of their nations.

The continent’s flagship sports event [Afcon] was last year moved to January and February [a peak period for European clubs] and this affected several clubs as African players left to represent their nations.

However, responding to his former boss, Kalidou – who is now a Chelsea player – said De Laurentiis should show respect to African teams and the Afcon tournament.

“It’s up to [De Laurentiis],” Koulibaly said, according to The Athletic.

“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 the Afcon.

“It was indeed a difficult moment for them when we went to the Afcon, but I’m really happy today (to have won).

“We have to respect the national team 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 the national team, but I respect what he thinks. If he thinks the team can play without African players, it’s up to him.

He added:

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 respectful. This is what he thinks, not what the city is thinking or the society is thinking.”

The former  Napoli defender captained his national team during the 2022 Afcon showpiece where he was an integral part of Senegal’s first-ever Afcon trophy