Gennaro Gattuso has dismissed suggestions that he is racist, sexist or homophobic, after reports that he was rejected for the manager’s job at Tottenham Hotspur due to a fan backlash over past comments.
Gattuso, 43, was among the lengthy list of names linked to the vacant managerial position at the North London club this summer but was ultimately overlooked.
Spurs have since appointed former Wolverhampton Wanderers boss Nuno Espirito Santo to the post held by Jose Mourinho, who was sacked in April after just 17 months at the club.
Spurs endured widespread mockery as their search for a replacement took in a host of names from across the continent who apparently ended up giving them the cold shoulder.
However, in Gattuso’s case considerable pushback from fans is said to have been a factor in why the Spurs hierarchy opted against pursuing the fiery former Italy midfielder, despite his availability after leaving Fiorentina just 23 days following his appointment at the Serie A club.
— Kevin Gower © (@KGower83) June 17, 2021
As ever, it isn’t wise for us to comment on speculation. However, we can and do communicate supporter sentiment to the decision makers at the Club, and have done so very clearly on this occasion. We are aware of and acting on your concerns around potential managerial candidates.
— THST (@THSTOfficial) June 18, 2021
The hashtag #NoToGattuso trended on Twitter in the UK after speculation emerged that Spurs could turn to the 2006 World Cup winner, while fans dragged up past quotes from Gattuso on issues including racism, same-sex marriage and women in football.
Another incident Spurs fans were quick to seize on was the former AC Milan midfielder’s infamous clash with Spurs’ then-assistant manager Joe Jordan during a Champions League game at the San Siro in 2011.
— Dominic Everett (@dominic_everett) June 18, 2021
But Gattuso himself has dismissed the idea that fan pressure and claims of past misconduct cost him the Spurs job.
“I find it hard to think that this was the reason for my failure to move to Tottenham,” he told La Repubblica newspaper, as reported by Gianluca Di Marzio.
“At the limit, their fans may have been left with the image of my fight with [Joe] Jordan in 2011, who was their assistant manager at the time.
“Me racist, sexist and homophobic? That’s not true, ask my former teammates. Some of my statements have been misrepresented.”
Gattuso went on to suggest that the accusations against him – including that he is homophobic for asserting in 2008 that same-sex marriage shouldn’t be allowed in churches – meant that he was a victim of “keyboard hatred.”
“My story teaches that keyboard hatred is something dangerous and underestimated,” he said.
“I am a public figure and I have the strength to react, but there are many other people who may not succeed and maybe throw themselves out of the window out of weakness.
“I want to tell the youth to live their lives, not the ones of others.”
Gattuso guided Napoli to Coppa Italia success in 2020, but was sacked at the end of last season after the team failed to qualify for the Champions League.
Napoli finished fifth in the Serie A table, one point behind Juventus, following a final-day draw with Verona.