The Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), which is scheduled to be held in Ngannou’s homeland from January, is reportedly under threat after FIFA president Gianni Infantino was said to have backed European clubs pushing for a postponement.
With the rise of the Omicron Covid variant already causing a major rescheduling headache for leagues, there are concerns over dozens of players heading to Cameroon to take part in the month-long showpiece which has already been rescheduled from summer 2021.
A ‘small but highly influential minority’ within the Confederation of African Football (CAF) backed Infantino’s purported position during a Zoom call on Sunday, according to inews, although no conclusion is said to have been reached.
It's so disrespectful to see how @FIFAcom is trying to suspend the African Cup of Nations with some bullshit excuses while competitions have been taking place everywhere else.
— Francis Ngannou (@francis_ngannou) December 21, 2021
🇨🇲 Cameroon is hosting the #ACON this year and the whole continent is excited for it since this is the only competition that honor all African players around the world. Please show some damn respect to our people 🙄 #237 #CMR2022
— Francis Ngannou (@francis_ngannou) December 21, 2021
UFC champion and Cameroonian hero Ngannou is clearly not happy with what he believes is an unfair treatment of Africa.
“It’s so disrespectful to see how FIFA is trying to suspend the Africa Cup of Nations with some bullsh*t excuses while competitions have been taking place everywhere else,” the fighter told his Twitter following of more than 600,000.
“Cameroon is hosting the [tournament] this year and the whole continent is excited for it, since this is the only competition that honors all African players around the world. Please show some damn respect to our people.”
Superstars including Egypt’s Mohamed Salah and Naby Keita and Arsenal’s Thomas Partey are among the list of around 40 players from the Premier League alone who are expected to be joining their national squads.
The AFCON 2021 will take place in Cameroon starting January 9 to February 6, 2022. Mark your calendars. The EUROs were played across 11 countries in the middle of this global pandemic and all of a sudden playing the AFCON in one country is a problem? Say no to neocolonialism! pic.twitter.com/NtYrtzTjTx
— Usher Komugisha (@UsherKomugisha) December 21, 2021
Other international competitions have been going on, so yes the African Cup of Nations should go on as well. Unless the whole world is shutting down again. We will see if the Beijing games happen first.
— Jerad Sutton (@JeradVSutton) December 21, 2021
Former Barcelona striker and newly-elected head of the Cameroon FA Samuel Eto’o vowed that his organization would “defend hosting this competition to the end.”
“If [Euro 2020] took place in the middle of the pandemic, with full stadiums in several cities in Europe and there was no problem, why wouldn’t AFCON be played in Cameroon?” he told Canal+.
“Or are you trying to say that like we’ve always been treated, we Africans aren’t worth anything so we have to put up with it? I don’t see why AFCON wouldn’t take place.”
CAF president Patrice Motsepe insisted he would be “with my wife and kids” to “witness this incredible competition” when the first ball is kicked on January 9.
From Cairo to Cape Town, some of the world’s greatest football players come from Africa. The Africa Cup of Nations is a celebration of pride, of African brotherhood and most of all, our love for the game. I have the utmost faith in the success of #CAN2021. pic.twitter.com/UINjq0ljoY
— Samuel Eto'o (@SamuelEtoo) December 21, 2021
The biennial noise about Afcon from European clubs switched up. The idea that the players are somehow endangered this time by travelling to Africa from the ECA absolute nonsense and sign of the disrespectful posture they approach every issue from Africa with.
— Michael Oti Adjei (@OtiAdjei) December 15, 2021
“You can see that there’s a huge commitment and a focus to make sure that there’s good progress,” he added.
“We are going to host, with the people of Cameroon, an exceptional tournament.
“It will be the most successful AFCON. We are ready to show the world the best of African football and African hospitality.
“This tournament is important for the people of Africa and I’m so proud and so excited with the work done.
There is a little matter of Covi19, if you did not hear about. Stop moaning about disrespect. If anything there is a disrespect from CAF holding AFCON in the middle of a season. If Cameroon can not host tournament in the summer, they should not. WC next year is the same.
— Alex Yurchyk🖐👍 (@AlexYurchyk) December 15, 2021
How many International tournaments are played in the middle of normal league season?Even leagues in Africa are still in session, and we expect a one month hiatus?The timing is wrong and makes me wonder how the CAF leaders think
— Dr. Billion$ (@kmarfo_) December 16, 2021
“We have to believe in our people. We have to stop being the ones that lack confidence and are always expressing negative views of our people.
“All over the world, there are competitions with challenges – but we have to be more optimistic because sometimes we are over-critical of ourselves.
“If we’re not going to have confidence in what we do, who’s going to have confidence in us?
“This is the generation where Africans must believe in Africans. We can host a football competition that’s as good as you can see in Europe and the world.”