SHARE
COPY LINK

FOOTBALL

Sarri replaces Benitez at Napoli

Maurizio Sarri has officially been appointed Napoli coach, replacing Spaniard Rafael Benitez who has taken over at Real Madrid, the Serie A club announced.

Sarri replaces Benitez at Napoli
Maurizio Sarri smokes a cigarette before a Serie A match. Photo: Marco Bertorello / AFP

Sarri, 56, has been in charge of unfashionable Empoli since 2012 and has earned a reputation for attractive attacking football.

He has also managed to keep the club in the top flight on a shoestring budget.

Sarri will bring his own backroom team with him and is thought to be intending to return to Empoli to poach Italian international midfielder Mirko Valdifiori, the playmaker around whom he built his team.

Sarri has reportedly agreed a one-year deal with the option of a further year, and will earn 1.5 million euros ($1.68 million) a season, five times his salary at Empoli.

Empoli, whom Sarri led into Serie A at the second attempt in 2014, finished only eight points above the drop zone but impressed with a series of results that included victories over Palermo (3-0) and Lazio (2-1) at home, and away held Napoli (2-2), Fiorentina (1-1), Roma (1-1) and AC Milan (1-1) to draws.

Sarri, usually unshaven, is known for his trademark tracksuits and smoking the odd cigarette on the touchlines but he has also earned respect for a tactical approach which exploits setpieces and dead-ball situations.

Benitez left Napoli last week after failing to secure third place and entry to the qualifying play-offs for next season's Champions League, and has since signed for Real.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

FOOTBALL

Euro 2020: Concern about virus spread after Italy players’ ‘unauthorised’ victory parade through Rome

Italy’s national football team reportedly insisted on taking an open-top bus tour through Rome to show off their European Championship trophy to crowds of fans - despite city authorities forbidding it amid concern about the spread of coronavirus.

Euro 2020: Concern about virus spread after Italy players' ‘unauthorised’ victory parade through Rome
Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

The team’s bus parade through the city on Monday night following their Euro 2020 triumph “was not authorised”, according to Matteo Piantedosi the head of Rome’s prefettura (the public safety authority).

Thousands of fans packed the streets of central Rome to see the team celebrate their cup win after beating England on penalties in the final.

READ ALSO: ‘Football came home’: Italy celebrates Euro 2020 victory over England

Piantedosi told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera on Wednesday: “We had denied permission to celebrate Italy’s victory in the European Championships on the open bus, but the pact was not respected.”

Piantedosi, who is Rome’s top public security official, said police had “no choice” but to let the parade go ahead after players Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci insisted on it.

Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

A meeting had been held on Friday with the Italian football federation (FIGC) to discuss plans for the celebrations if Italy won, said Piantedosi.

“I had agreed the line with Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese and Chief of Police Lamberto Giannini,” he said.

“It was clearly explained that [the parade] was not possible. We said we could not authorize it.”

Piantedosi said the Italian football federation (FIGC) initially agreed to hold a “controlled” ceremony in Rome’s central Piazza del Popolo instead of the parade.

After players insisted on the bus tour on Monday however, Piantedosi said, authorities reluctantly let them go ahead due to fears of sparking public disorder.

“At that point we had no choice but to acknowledge the situation and handle it in the best way we could,” he said.

READ ALSO: Covid cases on the rise in Europe once again as WHO warns of Euro 2020 risk

Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

In a statement on Wednesday, the FIGC said it had acted responsibly but decided not to disappoint fans who had come to celebrate with the team.

Footage of large crowds thronging the bus carrying the ‘Azzurri’ and the European Championship trophy through the capital however fuelled concerns about new outbreaks of coronavirus, after Italy’s infection rate began to rise again last week.

The World Health Organization warned earlier this month that crowds and gatherings connected to football matches will fuel a new rise in cases across Europe this summer.

READ ALSO: Delta variant in Italy will be ‘prevalent within 10 days’: health official

Italy’s health minister Roberto Speranza also voiced concerns on Monday about the consequences of people gathering to watch sporting events.

He said the European football championship win was “a great joy after terrible months,” but “even in these moments of national pride we can’t forget that our ‘game’ to defeat Covid is not yet won.”

There are currently minimal health restrictions in place across Italy, however masks are supposed to be worn in crowded public places, including outdoors.

“Footage shows that police were virtually the only ones [in the crowd] wearing masks,” said Piantedosi.

SHOW COMMENTS