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30th Dec 2021

Ian Wright: AFCON coverage is tinged with racism

Former England and Arsenal striker Ian Wright posted a video to his Instagram channels hitting back at disrespectful coverage of the Africa Cup of Nations

Reuben Pinder

‘Is there ever a tournament more disrespected?’

Ian Wright has claimed coverage of the Africa Cup of Nations is ‘tinged with racism’, after numerous high profile players were asked whether they would rather remain with their club teams while the tournament takes place in January.

In a video posted to his Instagram profile, the former Arsenal and England striker posed the question: “Is there ever a tournament more disrespected than the Africa Cup of Nations?”

“There is no greater honour, none, as a sportsperson than representing your country,” said Wright, who won 33 caps for England.

“The coverage is completely tinged with racism.

“We played our EUROs across 10 countries in the middle of a pandemic, and there’s no issue at all.

“But Cameroon, a single country, hosting a tournament, is a problem?

“You’re getting journalists asking players if they will be honouring the call-ups for their national teams. Imagine if that was an English player representing the Three Lions.

“Have you ever heard anyone ask an English player whether he’ll be ‘honouring’ the call-up? Can you imagine the furore?”

Wright went on to make the point that “loads of the best players in Europe right now are African,” adding that “if we love them at club level, why can’t we love them at international level like their counterparts from across the globe?”

“I’ve got to say, shout out to the countries that have qualified, the players like Sebastien Haller, who are taking a stand against the media backlash,” Wright said, citing the Ajax striker’s comments hitting back at ‘disrespectful’ questioning from a journalist.

Wright then hailed his former teammate and current Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira for speaking out on the issue as well, emphasising that “this is why it’s important that you do have a black manager who can let people understand where his roots are, and how important this tournament is for African people.”

AFCON kicks off on January 9th as hosts Cameroon take on Burkina Faso.