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Tactical conundrum for Mancini

Inter Milan
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Dessena blasts 'stupid, ignorant' fans

After revealing to the world he is gay, Thomas Hitzlsperger hopes players will one day feel comfortable disclosing their sexuality without the shelter of retirement.

Cagliari midfielder Daniele Dessena has hit back at "ignorant" fans who criticised him for supporting an anti-homophobia campaign at the weekend.

Daniele Dessena wore rainbow laces during the game against Inter.
Daniele Dessena wore rainbow laces during the game against Inter.

Dessena supported the Arcigay Italian LGBT Association's anti-discriminatory campaign by wearing rainbow-coloured laces on his boots in Cagliari's 1-1 draw at Inter Milan on Sunday. In collaboration with betting company Paddy Power, the "kick-out homophobia -- tie your boots to show your support" campaign was also supported by Inter's Fredy Guarin during the match.

Bologna forward Davide Moscardelli was another to throw his weight behind the campaign, publishing a video in support, while several Italian Serie A basketball players backed the initiative at the weekend.

However, Dessena, 26, received numerous insults from Cagliari supporters via the Facebook account of fan site blogcagliaricalcio1920.net, prompting the former Italy youth international to issue a strong response on the social networking site.

"You're just stupid, ignorant people," he wrote. "Think about your own jobs and not mine! Have respect for people. Like I say, you're just ignorant."

The supporters' site has also condemned the reaction of some of the club's fans and given its backing to Dessena and the Arcigay campaign by publishing it on their homepage.

Speaking after Sunday's game at the San Siro, Dessena explained why he was backing the campaign.

"It's important because I've been able to give my contribution to a cause I believe in," he said. "I have a child and, although I'm not married, I have a girlfriend and I travel between Cagliari and Parma every week to see them.

"In my career, I've never come across homosexual players, even if I believe there are some. The fact is that if a footballer, like any other person, publicly shows a different sexual orientation to mine, it doesn't cause me any problems or bother me.

"We all need to start changing our mentality radically, and genuinely -- not just with words. I'm delighted to have been able to make my contribution to this cause."

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