Roberto Mancini says Napoli boss used a homophobic slur

Roberto Mancini and Maurizio Sarri during Tuesday's cup clash
Roberto Mancini and Maurizio Sarri during Tuesday's cup clash

Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri, who once called football "a sport for queers", could be handed a four-month ban from football if he is ruled to have made homophobic comments during a Coppa Italia quarter-final.

The 57-year-old coach, whose Napoli side are the Serie A leaders, was accused by Inter Milan boss Roberto Mancini of using unacceptable offensive language during a late touchline confrontation at the San Paolo.

Mancini insists "the fourth official heard everything" Sarri said as Inter closed in on a 2-0 victory in Naples, and any subsequent punishment from the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) could be severe.

FIGC rules state that "discriminatory behaviour that causes offence on the grounds of race, colour, religion, language, sexuality, nationality or ethnic origin" can be punished with a disqualification of "at least four months".

The sanction could carry over to the Europa League, where Napoli are preparing to face Villarreal in the last 32, should UEFA decide to become involved.

Any FIGC judgement will be announced on Thursday.

Mancini also labelled Sarri a "racist" amid his claims the former Empoli manager yelled "faggot" when five minutes of stoppage time were announced at the end of the second half.

"You'll have to ask Sarri what happened as he is a racist," Mancini said in quotes reported by the Gazzetta dello Sport. "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 stoppage time and he yelled 'faggot'. 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 added: "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 boss told 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."

Inter won the game thanks to goals from Stevan Jovetic and Adem Ljajic and will face either Lazio or Juventus in the last four. AC Milan and third-tier club Alessandria will contest the other semi-final.

Italian football journalist Tancredi Palmeri thinks that Sarri is likely to miss the rest of Napoli's season:

In March 2014, during his Empoli days, Sarri apologised after saying football "had become a sport for queers" in the post-match television interview that followed a 1-0 Serie B defeat to Varese.

"It's a contact sport," he told PianetaEmpoli. "But you hear the whistle a lot more often over here than you do in England, because the game is being played by homosexuals."

Fabrizio Marrazzo, a spokesman for Rome-based LGBT network Gay Center, told Gazzetta: "Sarri is setting us all back.

"After just two years he is using homophobic insults again, this time against the Inter boss Mancini, namely 'queer' and 'faggot' at the end of a Coppa Italia match.

"As a Neapolitan and Napoli fan I'm ashamed to hear Sarri use those words, as we need him to set a good example.

"We are asking for (Napoli president) Aurelio De Laurentiis and (FIGC president Carlo) Tavecchio to meet with us. We would like football to launch a widespread campaign against homophobia - a sport so popular cannot support such outrageous language."

The president of the Italian Football Managers' Association, Renzo Ulivieri, came down on Sarri's side, urging former Manchester City boss Mancini to rescind his accusations of racism.

He told Gazzetta: "It was a fight between two coaches, not a serious one, but it was ugly.

"At the end Sarri apologised immediately, directly to Mancini and publicly. Sarri is not racist - I think Mancini should retract that comment as he doesn't even know him.

"The Napoli boss was then besieged with questions, which was another ugly scene. Mancini gave his own version of events but I can't tell you if what he said was true or false."