Sarri given room to light up in Leipzig

Chain-smoking Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri expressed his gratitude to RB Leipzig bosses for building a room in which he could puff away this week as his team attempted to overturn a 3-1 deficit in their Europa League tie.

Serie A leaders Napoli — dropped into the second-tier European competition after their Champions League exit — slumped to a shock home defeat in their last-32 first leg and played the away fixture in Germany on Thursday.

Sarri was relieved to hear that the Bundesliga club had built a specially adapted area and switched off smoke detectors to allow him to puff away undisturbed in the dressing room.

“We always ask for a different room for the staff, seeing as there wasn’t one. If you can smoke I’m very grateful, as well as other staff members,” Sarri told a press conference ahead of the game in the Red Bull Arena.

There is normally a strict no-smoking rule in the dressing rooms of the Red Bull Arena but an exception was made for 59-year-old Sarri, who practically chews cigarettes when under pressure.

“Sarri is a passionate smoker, that’s really incredible. I have never seen anyone who smokes so much. Thank God he has to hold back during games!” Napoli captain Marek Hamsík said recently.

Leipzig staff members decided to erect a 3m-wide and 3.5-metre-high concrete barrier in which the Tuscan coach can safely smoke.

For safety, fire alarms in the hall have also been disabled.

Ironically, RB Leipzig suspended two of its young players, Idrissa Touré and Vitaly Janelt, last year after they were caught smoking a shisha (hookah) pipe in a hotel while on duty with Germany’s under-19 national team.

Meanwhile, Sarri dismissed claims that his side were not taking the Europa League seriously, although he conceded they played “like clowns” in the first leg.

“We played like clowns; 70% of responsibility is mine, the rest the staff and players. Tomorrow [Thursday] we want the desire to take revenge,” said Sarri, who had fielded a second-string side.

Sarri conceded Napoli’s fans were more interested in winning a first Serie A title since 1990 as the home crowd stayed away in droves from the Leipzig game.

“The fans are interested in the championship now, and we will do everything to make them happy, but this should not undermine the mentality of the team.

“Last Thursday’s performance was a bolt from the blue for me as well. We have to drag the fans with the performance, but those who live in Naples know that.

“It’s obvious Leipzig are overriding favourites. We don’t play differently at home or away, but we need to make up for the first leg and have a little bit of madness to think we can qualify.” — AFP


DA’s Moodey joins leadership race

The head of the Democratic Alliance in Gauteng says he wants to take his experience to the national level

Inside Uganda’s controversial ‘pregnancy crisis centres’, where contraception is discouraged

Undercover investigation shows that controversial US-linked centres are defying government policy and providing inaccurate medical information

Coronavirus reaction: Sinophobia with Western characteristics

Western media has racialised the coronavirus outbreak, leading to increased Sinophobia in several countries. Such dehumanisation of a race has no place in functioning democracies

Pam Golding facilitates African kleptocrats’ money laundering

Government must take steps to clean up the country’s dirty real estate market, which has long offered a safe haven for criminals

Press Releases

Achieving the litmus test of social relevance

The HSS Awards honours scholarly works based on their social relevance and contribution to the humanities and social sciences

Response to the report of the independent assessors

VUT welcomes the publishing of the report of the independent assessors to investigate concerns of poor governance, leadership, management, corruption and fraud at the university.

NWU student receives international award

Carol-Mari Schulz received the Bachelor of Health Sciences in Occupational Hygiene Top Achiever Award.

Academic programme resumes at all campuses

Lectures, practicals, seminars and tutorials will all resume today as per specific academic timetables.

Strategic social investments are a catalyst for social progress

Barloworld Mbewu enables beneficiaries to move away from dependence on grant funding

We all have a part to play to make South Africa work

Powering societal progress demands partnerships between all stakeholders

So you want to be a social entrepreneur?

Do the research first; it will save money and time later

Social entrepreneurship means business

Enterprises with a cause at their core might be exactly what our economy desperately needs