BBC sports analyst Wright said coverage of the tournament and the issue of players leaving during the European season was in stark contrast to the way Euro 2020 was handled.
“Is there any tournament more contemptible than the Africa Cup of Nations?” he said in a video on social media.
“There is no greater honor than representing your country. The coverage is tainted by racism.
“We played the European Championship across ten countries in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic and there was no problem at all. But Cameroon, one country hosting the tournament, is a problem for some.”
Wright added that he objected to the players being asked if they intended to play for their countries.
“You ask the journalists to ask the players … if they will answer the call to play for their national teams. Imagine if it was an English player representing the Three Lions. Can you imagine the fuss?”
Many of the Premier League’s best players will miss club matches in January for the Africa Cup of Nations.
Liverpool will miss second-placed Egyptian international Mohamed Salah, Senegalese Sadio Mane and Guinean Naby Keita.
Crystal Palace will be without Wilfried Zaha, Jordan Ayew and Shekho Kouyate, but coach Patrick Vieira said he would not try to persuade any player to miss the finals.
“I respect and understand the passion and importance of the players going to represent their country, so I will not prevent any player from traveling to participate in the African Nations Cup,” he added, calling on the media to cover the event more seriously.
Wright said African players and their countries deserve more respect.
The 58-year-old, who has made 33 appearances for England, added: “A lot of the best players in Europe are now Africans. If we love them at club level, why don’t we love them at international level like their peers from all over the world? Why is this tournament constantly subjected to so much? Who are you criticizing?”
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