Napoli coach apologises for calling Mancini a ‘queer’

Maurizio Sarri launched tirade of homophobic abuse during Italian Cup tie

Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri today finds himself at the centre of a major row after he last night angrily insulted Inter Milan coach, Roberto Mancini, calling him a "queer" and a "homo".

The incident happened as Napoli’s Italian Cup quarter-final tie against Inter entered injury time. With the score on 2-0 for Inter, the referee’s assistant signalled that time added-on would last nine minutes. The assistant quickly realised he had made a mistake and changed the time to five minutes.

In the meantime, however, a concerned Mancini had approached him to complain about such the amount of injury time. As he did, his opposite number, Sarri, began to angrily shout at him, calling him a "queer". At one point, the referee's assistant had to come between the two coaches as they faced off, shouting at one another. When match referee, Paolo Valeri, noticed the touchline disturbance, he sent off both coaches. Afterwards, Mancini recounted the incident to Italian TV, saying: "I got up to ask the fourth man (assistant) why he had added on five minutes. Sarri got to his feet and started shouting 'queer' and 'homo' at me. I would be proud if I was . . .

“Sarri is a racist and people like him have no place in football . . . you can argue with people but this is just a disgrace . . . in England, they wouldn’t let a guy like him anywhere near a football pitch”

Mancini, of course, has had experience of English football, having led Manchester City to the Premier League title in 2012. For his part, Sarri was quick to make his excuses last night, saying that the incident was a “10 second affair” that came in the heat of the match and should best be “left on the pitch”, adding: “I acknowledge that I made a mistake. I used an inappropriate expression and for that reason I apologise to all homosexuals and I apologise to Mancini. When I realised that I had said a bit too much, I went to him after the game to explain. When things calm down, I’m sure he will accept my excuses.”

Sarri put the incident down to the pressures of the job. His Napoli side are currently leading Serie A, two points clear of second placed Juventus and four points clear of fourth placed Inter Milan. Were Napoli to hold on and win the title, it would be only the third time in the club's history and the first since the Diego Maradona inspired Napoli lifted the title in 1987 and 1990.

Sarri, however, is not new to homosexuality related controversies. Last season, whilst coaching Serie A side Empoli, he complained about one referee, saying: “Football has become a game for queers. Football is a contact sport but in Italy referees whistle a lot more than in England, they ref it like they were all homosexuals”.

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