Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp declared this week that he didn't 'give a damn about the African Nations Cup,' and that he would like to see the competition moved to a different time of year.
The former West Ham manager was speaking following the return of his striker Aiyegbeni Yakubu, whom Nigeria expelled from their Cup squad for disciplinary reasons, and his comments have sparked a influx of emails to Soccernet from disgruntled fans.
'I don't give a damn about the African Nations Cup,' Redknapp said. 'For a start I'd like to see it played at a different time of year so that it doesn't disrupt so much else.'
It is indeed a pity that a manager of Harry's stature (plus the others he did not mention) would make such comments about the African Cup of Nations. The fact that so many 'top rated' managers are complaining about the ACN is not that it is a mediocre championship, no, it is simply because they are losing so many of their reliable players to the tournament. Would a mediocre championship drain the leading European football leagues of some of their top stars?
My advice to such cynics (we in Africa are used to their types), would be to sit back, enjoy the festival and you never know, you could spot your next Yakubu, Okocha, Diouf, Mboma, Eto'o or...the 17 year old kid with the number 18 shirt playing centre forward for Kenya!
With the Africa Cup of Nations, you are sure to spot the future star of European football. So much for a second-rate championship Mr. Redknapp.
I am finding myself completely disinterested in the African Nations' Cup, the number of top teams like Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Morocco and South Africa notwithstanding. To me, the timing is all wrong. How can a major international tournament, featuring large numbers of top line players, be run smack in the middle of the European domestic season?
The answer that it's always been this way simply isn't good enough. Back in the 50s and 60s, there weren't that many great African players, and such a tournament was a highlight in the players' careers, and the highest pinnacle for most. Today, when just about every top European club has quality African players, the situation is very different indeed.
In fact, there are a number of African players who have chosen to retire from international football rather than jeopardise their chances of playing first team football with their clubs. The likes of Fortune, Fish, Lauren, Job, Nyarko and Faye have stayed away, and are playing in the Premiership as a result. Players are voting with their feet, so to speak. Others delayed their arrival long enough to play as many club fixtures as possible, rendering national team preparation essentially meaningless.
This is not in any way to denigrate the tournament. It's just that certain realities need to be accepted, and a major tournament that goes for up to six weeks over Jan/Feb/Mar just shouldn't be run in today's world at this time.
As an African who follows English football with something akin to a passion, as do millions across Africa, I fully agree with the many English (and French etc...) managers who have expressed the opinion that the coincidence of the African Cup of Nations every two years with what is a delicate part of the European domestic football season is something that needs to be sorted out.
Obviously, the European managers such as Wenger and Sam Allardyce are justified in feeling aggrieved at having to lose players whose wages they pay and who are often an integral part of their clubs for close to a month biannually due to a competition of no direct relevance to Europe.
But I take exception to the manner in which people like Portsmouth manager, Harry Redknapp, express this view. Granted, Mr. Redknapp has never struck me as a refined sort and he does not need to be in order to do his job well. But as an African, I felt truly insulted by his comment 'I don't give a damn about the African Nations Cup,' and, regarding the misconduct, 'I don't see how you can punish somebody for something like that.' and implying that a player has nothing to learn from participating in the competition go beyond what can be considered justifiable, even for the sake of vigorous, healthy discussion.
The African Nations' Cup is very important to millions of Africans and by belittling it publicly in such an untamed manner, Mr. Redknapp is publicly revelling in great contempt for Africa as a whole. To people like me, it is not a pleasant. A lot of people such as Allardyce and Wenger have stated their case vigorously but Mr. Redknapp 'contributed' only insults. The private comments of these managers, the nature of which Mr. Redknapp alludes to in the same article, do not concern me in the least because they keep it private.
Until something resembling a mutually acceptable solution is put in place, European managers should definitely continue putting pressure on the FA, CAF, FIFA, the EU, NATO, the UN and their personal Deities, if necessary to resolve the situation. But in the meantime, for what it is worth, millions across Africa, like myself, recognise that Redknapp, Allardyce and co. are right to demand (like ourselves), for some harmony in the global football calendar. We continuously urge our continental body to reach some compromise and this will eventually be reached between CAF and UEFA etc under FIFA.
I can fully understand why Harry Redknapp said what he did. He did not mean it as a degrading comment to African football in general, it is simply because he is trying his best to run a football club and the African Nations Cup is taking away one of his best assets.
I'm sure if the European Championships are taking place in the middle of a regular football season he wouldn't give a damn about that either, because in the middle of a season all a manager cares about is how his own team performs because it is his job on the line.
Some managers may not say that out loud but I'm sure deep down they all have that same thought. I applaud Harry for speaking his honest mind as always.
I am very disgusted by what the Pompey Manager, Harry Redknapp has said of the Africa Nations Cup. The type of play and the skill on display is quite refreshing, promising and compares well with, or rather surpasses, what his own Portsmouth subject us to weekend in weekend out!
Cameroon, Nigeria, Morocco, Egpyt to name a few are all tactically better that Portsmouth. The Cup is dear to us Africans and to the players of African origin.
Arsenal Supporter, Zimbabwe
Both the World Cup and the European Nations Cup are played at the end of the domestic football season. The African Cup of Nations is played in the middle of the domestic football season when results are becoming extremely critical and you wonder why Harry Redknapp et al are feeling upset?
After all it is domestic football clubs that make the three tournaments above possible by providing the professional players necessary for such competitions. Fair play to you Harry! To the organizers of the African Cup of Nations, get real and move your tournament to the close season like everybody else!
Nothing perhaps mirrors the contradictions and double standards of the west in their views on international football better than Harry Rednapp's comments on the ANC.
English football managers encourage national team handlers to pick their players for even friendly internationals in order to enhance their skills and value. They would not dare write off a competition involving England, however non-competitive. If African football is so contemptable, how is it that the English, French, Italian and Spanish leagues are littered with and sizzled by African footballers.
Yakubu was first a Nigerian before he ever became a Portsmouth player and will continue to be a Nigerian long after Harry Rednapp forgets his Premiership goals for Portsmouth. As for the timing of the competition, Harry is better advised to educate himself on the reason for holding the competition in January/February, rather than run his mouth about issues he is ill informed of.
I must say that I am very disappointed by Harry Redknapp's comments on the Nations Cup following Yakubu's expulsion from the Nigerian team. Firstly, by saying that he does not care about the Nations Cup, he shows a shameful lack of tact which is unbecoming of a Premiership manager.
Again by suggesting that the Nations Cup be moved to a different time he shows the narrow minded approach of many Premiership managers on this issue. It is clear that the tournament cannot be played in June due to weather reasons and that it must be played every two years allow the smaller teams to play regular international football.
Harry's wholesale endorsement of an indisciplined player calls to mind the saying, 'what goes around comes around'. Today it is Nigeria, tomorrow it might be Portsmouth. Let dear old Harry be prepared to accept responsibility whenever Yakubu starts keeping late nights at Portsmouth.
Finally, for Yakubu, remember that if not for your international experience, Portsmouth would never have signed you. Think hard, who remembers Finidi George and Daniel Amokachi at Ipswich and Everton respectively. Harry might be pampering you now that the goals are flowing but will he show the same concern when you are down.
The statement by manager Harry Redknapp 'I don't give a damn about the African Nations Cup,' is an insult to Africa and I am calling for his resignation.
The African Nations Cup has been scheduled by CAF/FIFA to be held at this time of the year and managers of other clubs have released their African players to go and take part in the competition. Manager Redknapp should remember that when it's winter here it's summer down there...
You're not fit to be a coach and it's high time you resign.
Emmanuel F-E, Toronto
I am not at all surprised at the attitude of an English manager. After all, it is only important when you are playing for a European national team.
Harry's contempt for the African Nations Cup is typical of a self centered pompous ass who has had his head soaked by countless English rains to the point that he does not realise what an idiot he is making of himself. I suggest he looks up the history of the cup before he dismisses it is a non-entity.
I do agree on one thing. Play the cup every four years.
The comments made by Harry concerning Yakubu were downright degrading and extremely inappropriate for any professional manager. To have him say that he doesn't give a damn about the African Nations Cup speaks volumes to the exploitation mentality that these managers have.
Sam Alladyce is another who seems to discriminate against the African competition. Have they forgotten what it means to play wearing their own country's colours? They gladly accept the football talents from these African countries and yet when they are needed back home, they make a huge fuss claiming the standard of the competition is not up to par.
Have football players become so mercenary-like that they should forsake the honour of representing their own country just to play in clubs like Bolton and Wolves? It's downright incorrigible.
Would someone please tell that unintelligent manager that due to the climate, the Nations Cup cannot be held during summer. It would be like having Euro 2004 in the Winter. In addition, you would find that the Nations Cup pre-dates the European Championship.
'I saw nothing'. Well I saw Edu pushing Anelka in the face in retaliation and staying on the pitch. I know Wenger started this 'I didn't see it' lark to protect his players but it has become like the boy who cried wolf too many times.
Time to change the tune - football supporters are fed up being treated as idiots - show some respect Wenger. You've got certain players who are out of control because of your softly softly management approach - it will cost you the league again.
The incident was clearly instigated by Anelka trying to get a rise out of Cole. They know eachother well, and Anelka preyed upon that.
As an Arsenal fan, I do realize that the players do have behavior problems. But I am sick that everytime a scuffle breks out, Arsenal players are automatically chastised. Check out the fairplay statistics on the year. Oh, and check out the points table too.
Yet again disgraceful refereeing has ruined a good hard fought game in appalling conditions. The Anelka/Cole incident says it all, it was another classic footballers 'handbags and ten paces' and they calmed down and shook hands, one gets a red card, the other yellow and Edu who hand his arms flailing gets away unpunished!
As for the foul on Anelka on the lead up to the Arsenal goal, well what can you say, 2 minutes earlier he gave a freekick to Arsenal for a less obvious foul by Barton?.I do not know how Alan Wiley can sleep at night. How can players stay within the law when it is different every week?
Roger Dubai, UAE
A great debut for Arsenal new boy Reyes. he witnessed a good win to put the Gunners back at the top of the Premiership, some fantastic football capped by an excellent goal from Thierry Henry.....and a good old scuffle.
He has seen what Arsenal are all about in only 90minutes. I'm not sure he will fit in however, his football looked good enough but his brief brow to brow clash with Richard Dunne was hardly the work of a true Gunner. He may need to go a few rounds with the Martin 'Monkeyman' Keown to toughen up.