Right after Inter Milan scored their stoppage time goal in a 2-0 win over Napoli, Inter manager Roberto Mancini and his Napoli counterpart Maurizio Sarri were engaged in a heated shouting match. It ended with Mancini being sent to the dressing room by the fourth official, who had been forced to separate Mancini from Sarri. We were all left scratching our heads as to what on earth had happened -- and then Mancini gave his post-match interview.
I got up to ask the fourth official why there were five minutes of added time. Sarri then got up and shouted ‘poof’ and ‘f****t’ at me. I would be proud to be that if he is what’s considered a man.
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. [...] Men like him should be drummed out of football.
-Translated quote source: Football Italia
Perhaps making it worse was that Mancini wasn't ranting and raging dramatically. He said his words with the icy kind of calm that only comes when you are truly hurt in a way that sends you past anger and into a rare place that is not a good one to go to. It's a kind of anger that cannot be manufactured.
Unfortunately, Sarri didn't do much to help himself with his own comments.
It was the kind of argument that people have on the touchline or on the pitch.
I apologized to him in the locker room, but I expected him to apologize to me too. I think what happened on the pitch should stay on the pitch.
I can’t remember [what I said]. [...] I was fired up and angry. [...] Adrenaline does strange things to people and can trip you up. As far as I’m concerned, it was part of the game and at the 90th minute it’s all over.
Do I expect a ban? Why should I be banned? It’s an insult, like many others. Mancini called me an old git, so is he racist towards old people?
Under stress things can happen, but I apologized in the locker room and it should’ve ended there, like it so often does in this game.
Now people are calling me homophobic and other ugly things. It was the first word that popped into my mind. Next time I’ll call him a Democristiano [a defunct Italian political party]. I have gay friends, so it’s not as if I’m homophobic…
Sorry, Sarri, but "I have gay friends" isn't getting you out of this. That has never, ever been a valid excuse for calling someone what Mancini says you called him, and you did absolutely nothing to deny that you said it. And even if Mancini did call you an "old git," how on earth does that justify anything?
Sarri has been variously defended by Napoli fans claiming that such things aren't a big deal in Italy -- despite Mancini being, you know, Italian -- and that "much worse things are said on the pitch," so what's the big deal? Sorry, but that doesn't fly either. Just because worse things are said on the pitch doesn't excuse using a homophobic slur on the touchline. And by the way, saying worse things on the pitch isn't OK either.
While many are eager to throw this under the rug, it's a near-certainty that this mess is going to get a whole lot uglier before we'll be able to put it behind us in any meaningful way. It's already drawing negative attention to the club all around the world, and that's not something that's going to go away quickly or quietly.