Jose Mourinho hits back at Antonio Conte: 'I will never be banned for match fixing'
Jose Mourinho opened a new front in his extraordinary dispute with Chelsea manager Antonio Conte on Friday night by making a reference to the match-fixing scandal the Italian was involved in during his time in charge of the then Serie B club Siena eight years ago.
The Manchester United manager made the reference at the end of a remarkable day in which Conte had earlier accused him of losing his mind, using the Italian phrase “demenza senile” – literally senile dementia - for Mourinho’s comments about other managers’ behaviour on the touchline. Mourinho opened his post-match press conference after the 2-0 win over Derby County in the FA Cup third round by saying that Conte had been misled over the nature of his comments.
He claimed that he had never been referring to Conte when he spoke about “clowns” on the touchline and that the media had created the connection independent of him. “The question that comes to him is completely wrong and because of that he [Conte] had that out of control reaction,” Mourinho said. “But I don’t blame him at all. I was asked about my passion and you know I was speaking about myself and then the question to the Chelsea manager was that I said he behaved like a clown.”
Then after a long explanation about “mistakes” he had made celebrating wildly in the past, Mourinho made a reference, apropos of nothing, to match-fixing. “The only way I want to end the story is yes I made mistakes in the past on the touchline and yes I will make less but I’ll still make a few. What has never happened to me and will never happen is to be suspended for match fixing. That never happened to me and it will never happen.”
Minutes later, Mourinho was asked directly whether his point about match-fixing related directly to Conte. In 2010 Conte was suspended by the Italian football association (FIGC) for ten months for failing to report match-fixing in two Siena games. In 2012 the ban was reduced to four months on appeal. In May 2016 a judge cleared Conte, by then Italy manager, of any wrongdoing and he took over at Chelsea in the following July.
When Mourinho was asked directly if he wished to clarify whether he was referring to Conte, he first replied “Sorry?” When it was then put to him that at one point Conte was charged with failing to report match-fixing and did he wish to clarify his answer a second time, the Portuguese coach said “Did he [Conte]? Not me.”