Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira has stated that the Africa Cup of Nations is as important as the European Championship.
The AFCON has come under heavy criticism especially from European clubs due to its timing and also the fear of the new COVID-19 variant Omicron.
Some clubs have lamented the absence of their African players, who have been called up by their countries for the tournament which will begin on January 9th.
Palace will lose three players as Wilfried Zaha, Cheikhou Kouyate and Jordan Ayew have all been listed for Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal and Ghana respectively.
Despite the absence of three of his players, Senegalese-born former France international said he will never stop any player from taking part in the tournament.
“I respect and I understand the passion and importance of those players to go and represent their country,” Vieira said on Palace’s official website.
“I will never stop any players going to the Africa Cup of Nations. I believe that competition has to be more respected because this competition is as important as the European Championship.
“With Senegal, I don’t think people understand [Sadio] Mane or Cheikhou Kouyate not representing their nation. If there was more coverage people will understand how important it is for the African continent.”