Inter Milan manager Roberto Mancini has labelled Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri a “racist” and claims he was subjected to homophobic abuse as the pair clashed on the sidelines on Tuesday night.
Stevan Jovetic and Adem Ljajic scored for the visitors in the second half of the Coppa Italia quarter-final at San Paolo as Napoli lost for only the second time since August.
Napoli’s misery was compounded by the dismissal of Dries Mertens late on, earning his second yellow card for taking a dive in the penalty area.
Shortly after Ljajic had put the result beyond doubt with a second goal on the breakaway in stoppage time, tempers boiled over between the two benches, with an angry confrontation and heated words exchanged before Mancini was eventually sent to the stands.
The Italian – who managed English side Manchester City from December 2009 until May 2013, winning both the Premier League and FA Cup – claimed in a post-match television interview with host broadcaster Rai Sport, reported on the La Gazzetta dello Sport website, that rival manager Sarri had used unacceptable offensive language during their confrontation.
“You have to ask Sarri what happened as he is a racist,” Mancini said.
“Men like him shouldn’t be in the world of football.
“He is 60 years old and must be ashamed.
“I got up to ask about the five minutes of injury time and he yelled ‘f****t’. I would be happy to be one if he is a man.
“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.”
Mancini continued: “He tried to find me after the match and asked for forgiveness, but he should be embarrassed. In England, someone like him wouldn’t even be allowed on a training pitch.”
In a separate post-match television interview, Sarri responded to the criticism, claiming no offence had been intended.
“It was late in the game and I was still angry about [Dries] Mertens getting sent off,” the Napoli manager said to Rai Sport.
“What I said wasn’t at all directed towards Mancini and once the game ended then he should have dropped it there.
“I even reached out to him at the end of the game to apologise and he should have accepted it. Every man should be prepared to forgive.
“And honestly I don’t even recall what it is that I said. I was frustrated and might have offended him. I hope that tomorrow, when things are calmer and have settled down, that he can accept my apology.”
Sarri, 57, hoped the matter could be put behind them.
“I think the whole thing is a being exaggerated, they were words of anger, not homophobic comments,” he continued.
“Mertens had been sent off and I yelled out in frustration and without the intent of offending. My actions were neither sexist nor racist, simply the product of anger. But I accept that another could think differently.
“Beyond apologising, there’s not much more I can do. I will try to call him [Mancini] tomorrow [Wednesday].
“It is true that certain words should not be used, but then again I’ve heard much worse.
“I have no stance on the issue of homosexuality. It was just a word I blurted out in the heat of the moment.”
Napoli are two points ahead of Juventus and four clear of Inter at the top of the table, and are next in action away at Sampdoria on Sunday.