Mancini accepts Mihajlovic's Milan derby wager

The Serbian proposed that whichever coach emerges victorious from the San Siro showdown must donate money to a charity for refugees


Inter coach Roberto Mancini has accepted the challenge laid down by AC Milan counterpart Sinisa Mihajlovic that the winner of Sunday’s derby must make a donation to aid the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe.

Mihajlovic suggested the bet in a touching open letter in the Gazzetta dello Sport on Friday, with the Serb explaining that he felt compelled to do something charitible because of his own experiences of the Yugoslav Wars.

“Mine is only a personal challenge from the heart that I extend to someone that, like me, has received a lot from Milan, my friend and adversary on two occasions this season, Roberto Mancini.

“This is the idea: ahead of every derby, we will choose an association in need or group in difficulty that needs help and make a donation, and whoever wins the derby will pay.

“After a victory, the level of generosity will be even greater than usual. And should we draw, we won’t split it, but we will double the amount.

“There is a tragedy that has existed for several years and that has become even more pressing: that of the migrants. Men, women, children, multitudes of desperate people that are fleeing from war, from genocide, from hunger and from poverty.

“It is a problem that is particularly close to my heart because I saw it with my own eyes and experienced it in my country when the civil war turned the former Yugoslavia upside down.

“Even my parents and a lot of my family members were migrants escaping from the war. They were lucky during the tragedy to have had a child or relative that was able to help them, welcome them and help them move.

“I helped, as much as I could, a lot of people that I had never seen before, I don’t remember their names anymore, but I still remember the look and the suffering hidden behind their eyes.

“Eyes that said more than a thousand words could. Almost all those that flee and look for refuge do so out of desperation and I know how difficult it can be for entire families to uproot, for men and women to try to rebuild their lives at 50 or 60-years-old.

“I don’t want to enter into a debate about European politics, or analyse the reasons why states are not able to welcome everyone. I don’t want to start a debate, I am only a football coach.

“But I know that there are associations in Milan that help people who are living through this tragedy and seeking help. We will choose one. It is a chance for the public to give an extra hand and go beyond what each and every one of us already do privately.

“Whoever wins the derby will pay. Mancio, are you up for it?”

Mancini, who played alongside Mihajlovic at Sampdoria and then hired the legendary set-piece specialist as his assistant during his first stint in charge of Inter, gave his answer during an interview with Gazzetta TV on Friday afternoon.

“I accept,” the former Italy international declared. “And it will be me who pays!”

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