Written by: Andrew Warshaw
Italian football has a history of discrimination issues but it isn’t every day an incident involves a strongly-worded spat between two top-flight coaches.
The Italian FA has launched an investigation after Inter Milan’s Roberto Mancini labelled Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri a “racist” claiming he was subjected to homophobic abuse as the pair clashed on the touchline towards the end of Tuesday night’s Italian Cup quarterfinal
Tempers boiled over between the two benches in stoppage time as Inter won 2-0 and Mancini, who managed Manchester City from December 2009 until May 2013, winning both the Premier League and FA Cup, claimed in a post-match television interview that Sarri had been totally out of order.
“You have to ask Sarri what happened as he is a racist,” Mancini fumed. “Men like him shouldn’t be in the world of football. He is 60 years old and must be ashamed. I went up to ask about the five minutes of injury time and he yelled ‘f….’ (faggot).
“The fourth official heard everything, but didn’t say a word, and I was sent off. This incident overshadows the rest of the match and is an embarrassment. I went to find Sarri in the locker room and he apologised, but I want him to be ashamed of what he said. In England, someone like him wouldn’t even be allowed on a training pitch.”
In a separate interview, Sarri, whose team had Dries Mertens sent off, claimed no offence had been intended. “It was the kind of argument that people have on the touchline or on the pitch. I was not discriminating against anyone,” he argued.
“I apologised to him in private, I don’t know what more I can do. I will admit it wasn’t the right tone to take, but I’ve seen and heard worse on a football pitch. Under stress it can happen, I hope with a clear head Mancini changes his mind.
“Am I homophobic? That seems over the top. I was just irritable. I said something out of rage at the Dries Mertens red card and I have nothing against Mancini. We are men of sport, these things happen, and it only lasted 10 seconds. If I did indeed use those words, then I apologise to the gay community.”