Mihajlovic challenges Mancini to a bet in Milan derby

The Rossoneri coach has proposed a friendly wager with his opponent ahead of Sunday’s game, with the proceeds going to a good cause chosen by the victor

AC Milan coach Sinisa Mihajlovic has challenged Inter counterpart Roberto Mancini to a friendly bet, suggesting the winner of Sunday’s derby makes a donation to aid the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe.

The traditional rivals meet for their first derby of the season on Sunday in what will be former Inter midfielder Mihajlovic’s first taste of the clash from the red and black side of Milan.

And Mihajlovic, a former assistant to Mancini at Inter, wants to add a charitable aspect to the fixture, suggesting the victor donates to a chosen charity.

In an open letter to La Gazzetta dello Sport, he wrote: “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.”

Mihajlovic, born in Yugoslavia, affirmed that the refugee crisis was particularly poignant for him, after seeing the effects of war and displacement in his native land. 

“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,” he said. 

“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?”

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