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- Chelsea has fired head coach Antonio Conte just weeks before the season starts.
- His replacement, Maurizio Sarri, did impressive work with Napoli in Italy over the past three years.
- However, he also has a controversial background which includes homophobic comments and allegations of racist comments.
Sarri is a fine coach and has done impressive work with Napoli over the past few years, guiding the club to top-three finishes in Serie A in each of the past three seasons. But he will also bring a bit of controversy with him.
During 2016, Sarri got into a heated dispute with then-Inter Milan manager Roberto Mancini, who accused Sarri of making homophobic and racist comments after an Italian Cup match between the two clubs, according to The Guardian.
“People like him do not belong in football. He used racist words. I stood up to ask about the five minutes being added on and Sarri shouted ‘poof’ and ‘faggot’ at me. I would be proud to be that if he is what’s considered a man,” Mancini said at the time.
“People like him should not be in football. He is 60 years old. The fourth official heard but didn’t say anything. He came to see me in the changing room to apologize but he should really be ashamed of himself.”
The Guardian also reported that Sarri had previously made homophobic comments.
“Football has become a sport for fags. We suffered twice as many fouls, but we had more yellow cards. It’s a contact sport in Italy and but the whistle is blown a lot more than in England because of the interpretation by homosexuals,” Sarri had said the previous year.
Conte, meanwhile, will be leaving Chelsea with an impressive track record over two seasons, having won the Premier League in his first season and the FA Cup last year. But his relationship with the board as well as key players has, according to reports, frayed to the point of being untenable.
Matt Law of the Telegraph wrote that Conte is, ” . . . ready to take a year out if no big jobs become available,” in which case Chelsea will have to pay him his full salary for this season.