Roberto Mancini has accused Napoli head coach Maurizio Sarri of homophobia after a touchline incident which overshadowed Inter's 2-0 Coppa Italia quarter final win.
The former Manchester City boss, now in charge at Inter, was seen reacting angrily at pitch-side whilst Adem Llajic slotted home the second goal. The fourth official mistakenly indicated there would be nine minutes of injury time, before changing it to five. During the following bust-up with Sarri, Mancini claims he was called a "poof" and "faggot" before being sent to the stands.
"People like him do not belong in football," Mancini stated to Rai TV. "I stood up to ask about the five minutes being added on and Sarri shouted ‘poof’ and ‘faggot’ at me. I would be proud to be that if he is what’s considered a man.
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“I am not remotely interested in talking about the game. A 60-year-old man who acts like this is shameful. You can argue, but this is shameful.”
Sarri, who is actually 57, apologised in the changing room but can't remember what was said during the exchange. “Am I homophobic? That seems over the top. I was just irritable,” said the Napoli coach. "I was fired up and angry, so I’m not sure what I said. I will admit it wasn’t the right tone to take."
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Here's a video of the incident:
The Neapolitan native tried his best to play down the incident, after his side suffered their first home loss of the season. “I apologised to him, but I expect him to apologise, too," he said. "A fight on the pitch should end after 10 seconds.
“I was not discriminating against anyone. If I did indeed use those words, then I apologise to the gay community.”
Sarri has won many plaudits since leaving Empoli to take charge of his hometown team last summer, with Napoli top of Serie A and through to the Europa League's knockout phase. He has built on Rafa Benitez's work and got the best out of star striker Gonzalo Higuain, who has scored 22 goals in all competitions.
He does have history with homophobic comments, though. Last year, after an Empoli match at Varese, he was fined €5,000 after rude gestures towards fans. He later said: “Football has become a sport for fags. We suffered twice as many fouls, but we had more yellow cards. It’s a contact sport in Italy but the whistle is blown a lot more than in England because of the interpretation by homosexuals.”
51-year-old Mancini believes Sarri wouldn't last in the Premier League. "In England, someone like him wouldn't even be allowed on the touchline." He continued: "I want him to be ashamed. People like him cannot be in football. If not, it never gets better."
Today's Gazzetta dello Sport reports that an inquiry is likely to be opened and Sarri faces a two-month ban for his remarks.
Inter will face either Lazio or Juventus in the semi final, thanks to goals from Stevan Jovetic and Llajic.
Should Sarri be punished for his comments, or has the incident been overblown? Let us know in the comments section below.
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