Top Italy coach sacked for punching sarcastic player
Sacked ... Delio Rossi attacks one of his players. Photo: Getty Images
Fiorentina coach Delio Rossi was sacked on Wednesday after punching his own player Adem Ljajic during Wednesday's Serie A clash against Novara, taking exception to the midfielder's sarcasm.
Fiorentina acted quickly after the match ended 2-2 with owner Andrea Della Valle announcing the 51-year-old's dismissal for "a serious action from a mild person."
The club was known to be reviewing the incident, which took place during the first half, even before the game ended.
With his side losing 2-0 at home to the team second bottom in the league after just half an hour, Rossi decided to act and hauled off Serbian Ljajic to bring on Ruben Olivera.
As he went back to sit in the dug-out, Ljajic, 20, sarcastically applauded his coach's decision.
Rossi took exception to the player's reaction and leapt into the dug-out and seemed to punch Ljajic in the face.
The scene continued for several seconds with Rossi trying to attack his player with a burst of hammer-fist punches as Fiorentina officials tried to separate the pair.
A couple of substitutes also tried to calm the situation, pulling Ljajic away from his irate coach.
Dalle Valle said Rossi had left him no other option.
"I spoke with Delio Rossi and he was ready to apologise," he said.
"But the decision to sack him is a must due to the values this club has followed over the last few years.
"It's a decision I would have never wanted to take but there is no justification for Delio Rossi's actions.
"The sacking is for his own good, he's a great person."
The referee did not see the incident and neither coach nor player was punished.
But Fiorentina's fans showed exactly whose side they were on by jeering the young Serb with some shouting: "You're a gypsy".
Rossi, on the other hand, was cheered and clapped.
He was only hired in November after the sacking of Sinisa Mihajlovic and had faced pressure a few weeks ago with his side in dire form and heading towards the relegation trap-door.