Monday 21 January 2019

Maurizio Sarri takes aim at 'stupid people' as Chelsea fans are accused of further racist chanting

Maurizio Sarri defended Chelsea fans after the win at Watford (Steven Paston/PA)
Maurizio Sarri defended Chelsea fans after the win at Watford (Steven Paston/PA)

Ed Elliot

Maurizio Sarri says tackling racism is a "fight against stupid people" following further allegations of racist chanting by Chelsea fans during the 2-1 win at Watford.

A minority of the away end were reported to have been heard shouting discriminatory remarks during the St Stephen's Day clash at Vicarage Road.

It follows other incidents from some Blues supporters in December, with Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling allegedly being targeted by racist abuse at Stamford Bridge while UEFA is investigating alleged anti-Semitic chanting during a Europa League game in Hungary.

Blues manager Sarri believes racism remains a problem in society and is not confined to supporters of his club.

"First of all I want to speak with my club, second I don't want to generalise because 99 per cent our fans are really wonderful," replied Sarri when asked about the issue.

"In every community, I think there are some stupids.

"And so altogether we have to fight against the stupid people but not against the Chelsea fans."

Eden Hazard's double secured victory for Chelsea as they returned to winning ways following Saturday's shock home defeat to Leicester.

Hazard rounded Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster in first-half stoppage time to slide home his 100th goal for the club and open the scoring.

Roberto Pereyra volleyed the hosts level less than three minutes later but Hazard, once again deployed as a false nine, converted the second-half winner from the penalty spot after he was brought down by Foster.

The result moves Chelsea back into fourth place in the Premier League and, afterwards, Sarri put Hazard in a similar bracket to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

"Of course, he's very important for us but (Lionel) Messi's very important for Barcelona, Cristiano Ronaldo's very important for Juventus," said the Italian.

"He is a very great player. He's able to play in every position, at the moment he is playing like a false number nine and he is very able to play in that position.

"He is very able to come to play with team-mates, he is very able to open spaces for team-mates. I think he can play very well in every position."

Watford's loss followed successive top-flight victories to leave them ninth in the table.

The hosts were denied a penalty by referee Martin Atkinson when Gerard Deulofeu went down following a tangle with David Luiz at 1-1.

Hornets manager Javi Gracia suggested his team were unfortunate not to be awarded a spot-kick for that incident.

"I prefer not to say many things about that, I prefer not to say my opinion today," said the Spaniard.

He added: "We know it's difficult playing against Chelsea because they are a very good team, but I think we've tried.

"I'm proud of the effort of my players and we try to do better and get a better result in the next game."

Speaking about the contribution of match-winner Hazard, Gracia said: "Always you know he's a player with special quality, speed, skilful and it's difficult to stop him - not only him, all of them are very good players."

Press Association

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport