Tuesday June 12 2012
Cassano on Balo, Thiago Silva and gays

Antonio Cassano laughs at being Mario Balotelli’s “tutor,” warns he’d quit Milan if they sold Thiago Silva, but shocked with homophobic comments.

The talent from Bari Vecchia, among the toughest and poorest neighbourhoods in Italy, held a rare Press conference today after Italy’s 1-1 opening draw with Spain.

“Are there any gay players? Cesare Prandelli told me you’d ask that question,” said the Milan striker.

“It’s their problem. If they are gay (though he used a far more offensive Italian term, ndr), then that’s their problem.

“If I say what I really think, then there’s going to be chaos. Are there any gays in the locker room? I hope not. In any case, it’s their problem and nothing to do with me.”

This isn’t the first time there has been controversy around the issue of homosexuality in sport, as Italy Coach Prandelli wrote a foreword to a book on the subject urging openness and inclusion.

However, forward Antonio Di Natale said it would be a mistake for gay players to come out of the closet, while President of the Players’ Association Damiano Tommasi suggested they stay hidden at least until the end of their playing careers.

Cassano’s Press conference had many headline-grabbing moments, including talk about his mini-stroke and heart surgery in late October.

“I am honest, I didn’t expect to play in the Euros. Instead I was fortunate and given a reprieve. I am not here to waste time now that I have made it, as I want to be at the Euros as a protagonist.

“People say I should be a tutor to Balotelli? Well, in that case we’re in big trouble! Who is going to look after me, then?”

Balotelli wasted a great scoring opportunity against Spain when he hesitated and Prandelli said he should’ve passed it along to Cassano.

“He said he wanted to pass it to me, but I told Mario with the shot he’s got then just aim and smash the net... I call Di Natale ‘The Sniper’ – give him a chance and he’ll score.

“Italy are among the favourites. After the defeat to Russia, everyone said we were a disaster. The important thing is to go forward along our path and I hope we go as far as possible.”

Cassano was also asked about his future at Milan, particularly amid rumours Thiago Silva is in negotiations with Paris Saint-Germain.

“I want to play well at Euro 2012, then I’ll see if I will stay at Milan or not. I have an idea about this, but I’ll only talk to some people. I’ve not heard from Ibra for a month, but if he gets angry about Thiago Silva being sold, then he’s absolutely right. It'd be criminal.

“Without Thiago Silva, at most we’d qualify for the Champions League. Besides, people should be clear with the fans. He is irreplaceable and without him we lose 50 per cent of the team. The club might consider the money coming in, but we ought to be clear.”

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