Sarri risks over 4 mths for 'queer' slur

Napoli coach says no homophobe, has gay friends

(ANSA) - Rome, January 20 - Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri risks being banned for over four months after allegedly calling Inter Milan coach Roberto Mancini a "queer" in a spat about extra time at Inter's 2-0 win at Napoli in an Italian Cup semi-final Tuesday night, sources said Wednesday.
    An Italian Soccer Federation (FIGC) sporting judge would give Sarri a fine or a ban of up to three games if Sarri's statements are adjudged to have been "injurious", the FIGC sources said.
    They said this shorter penalty was more likely.
    But a ban of "no less than four months" would be warranted if the slur is deemed to have been "discriminatory", the sources said. Mancini told Italian TV after the match that "Sarri called me a queer and a faggot, he should be ashamed of himself. He's a racist, he can't belong to the soccer world. In England they wouldn't let him coach, nor even onto a training ground".
    Sarri's self-confessed remark spurred criticism from the Italian sporting world.
    Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) chief Giovanni Malagò said "if those remarks were said I don't understand Sarri's justification, that these things should stay on the pitch.
    "Sarri is intelligent and he knows that you can't circumscribe these things to on-pitch talk, otherwise there's no end to it".
    Former top fencer Valentina Vezzali said "such insults have to be stigmatised".
    The insult also sparked indignation from Italian LGBT groups.
    Arcigay called on Sarri to take part in a march for gay rights, while Gay Center called for "an exemplary punishment" for the slur.
    Sarri sought to defuse the case, saying that "I've already apologised and I repeat that: I'm absolutely not a homophobe. I have had gay friends".
    He was speaking as he received a booby prize from satirical TV show Striscia La Notizia, the so-called Golden Tapir.
    The row sparked memories of past Italian soccer flaps over gays.
    Most recently, the head of the Amateur League, Felice Belloli, was forced to resign after saying that putting money into women's soccer was just wasting cash on "a bunch of lesbians".
    During the 2012 European championships, Antonio Cassano was asked about the possible presence of gays among the Azzurri and stoked a firestorm by replying: "Queers in the national team? I hope not, but it's their business".
    Before that, 2006 World Cup winning coach Marcello Lippi said he had never met any gays in soccer and would apply a 'don't ask don't tell' approach to the issue.
    More recently, former Italy coach Cesare Prandelli said he did not expect any player to come out, ever.
    Going back in time, former Juventus general manager Luciano Moggi courted controversy when he said "there are no gays in soccer, I don't know if the players are against them but I certainly am.
    "I would never hire one of them," said Moggi, who would later be disgraced by the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal.