Following the furore over Italian Soccer coach Maurizio Sarri’s gay slurs this week, one openly gay president of an Italian fifth division club has called for Italian players and officials to declare their homosexuality.
This week the 57-year-old coach Sarri hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons on Tuesday when he called Inter Milan coach Roberto Mancini a ‘poof’ during a heated dispute after his side’s quarter-final cup defeat to the Nerazzurri.
Sarri has steered Napoli to the top of Italy’s top flight and the side are firmly in title contention 26 years after winning their last ‘scudetto’.
Sarri, who now risks a two-game touchline ban, claimed the slurs were said in the heat of the moment.
Alessandro Cecchi Paone, the president of fifth division side Positano, close to Naples, labelled Sarri’s slurs as “offensive and homophobic” and suggested Napoli organize a benefit match between the sides to help spread awareness of the issue.
But Paone said gay players, coaches or officials could make a bigger impact by coming out themselves.
The 54-year-old announced he was gay 18 months ago and said he has earned nothing but respect.
“Everyone gives me credit for having the courage to admit I was gay. Now would be the time, in Serie A, for a coach, player or official to come to terms with his own homosexuality and become an example to follow,” Paone said in Gazzetta dello Sport.
“Mancini has jolted a climate that effectively prevents players from declaring their homosexuality because these kinds of homophobic incidents, that I see all the time in the minor leagues, don’t get the publicity they deserve.”
While Sarri awaits the announcement of a possible ban that could hamper his side’s campaign, his rant has highlighted arguably the last big taboo in football.
In 2009 Gareth Thomas, at the time Wales’s most-capped rugby union player, admitted he was gay while still actively playing.
Yet gay footballers remain a rarity at the top level of the sport.
It was announced late last year that two English Premier League players would come out early in 2016 but that is yet to be seen.
Paone, meanwhile, said his candour on the subject has only boosted his club’s chance on the pitch.
“Things are going great, I have great relations with the players and there’s no problem about me going into the dressing room,” he added. “What’s more, the team is playing even better.”
Last Updated on Jan 22, 2016