Wenger questions motivation for player recalls from African Nations Cup

LONDON – Arsene Wenger has questioned fellow Premier League managers' motivation for calling for their players to return from the African Nations Cup over security concerns.

Togo have pulled out of the tournament in Angola following last Friday’s terrorist attack which left three people dead, although captain Emmanuel Adebayor has said the players wanted to continue in the competition.

The situation has led to suggestions that several Premier League clubs will ask for their players to be withdrawn from the Cup of Nations due to safety fears.

Wenger, however, does not subscribe to that view and does not believe it would be right to summon Cameroon’s Alex Song and Ivory Coast’s Emmanuel Eboue back to Arsenal.

Disrespectful

"We won’t be asking Fifa to release them, and I’ll be happy for Eboue to play in Cabinda on Monday," said Wenger.

"I believe it would be disrespectful to Africa and the Africa Nations Cup [to bring them home]. You can’t always encourage Africa to develop and if something happens say ‘come back to Europe’.

"It wouldn’t be fair, let’s say, if clubs called their players back. Behind things like that you wonder if it is a selfish motivation or whether it is a real issue over their security."

The Gunners boss added: "I don’t believe you can just stop any competition for any incident, because that would be a reward for the people who provoke these atrocities. It would mean any competition could be stopped at any time.

"An international federation has to make sure the security is well respected and good enough for the event. Of course, you have to leave it individually to some players so that, if they feel insecure or scared, they have the possibility to come away from it. But I personally feel the competition has to go on.

"After an incident like that you can understand why Togo would want to come home, but the competition has still to go on if the security is well respected in the country.

"Angola is a troubled country because there is political unrest there, and there are rebels striking against the government in place.

"It is strange that the bus travelled from Congo to Angola knowing that there are rebels from Angola on the border on the Congolese side, but I don’t know the situation well.

"I don’t know enough about the security. Certainly, they [Caf and Fifa]) think the competition is safe."