AC Milan boss challenges Inter counterpart with bet for charity

Date: 11th September 2015 at 3:02pm
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Inter supremo Roberto Mancini, which will see the derby winner pay up.

The two sides will meet with a lot of hope and expectation on both, following busy summers of bringing in new players to put an end to their dismal showings in recent seasons.

Mihajlovic penned a letter for La Gazzetta dello Sport ahead of the first Derby della Madonnina of the new Serie A season, in which he put forth an idea that he hopes will help the plight of refugees fleeing war-ravaged countries such as Syria. Below, you can see his heartfelt message in its entirety.

“I have always been grateful to anyone in my life who gave me the opportunity to express my human and professional qualities. I’m a lucky man, for what I’ve seen and achieved so far, and for the dreams that have become reality.

“And part of that satisfaction has been experienced in Milan, where I ended my career as a player and began to coach. I consider it a great privilege, a reason for pride, and a badge that I wear on my chest, getting a chance to play the derby in this city, first as an athlete and now as a coach. I’ll tell my players the same thing before the game on Sunday night – we do this job for nights like these, in a stadium like the San Siro, in front of passionate supporters such as those of AC Milan and Inter.

“One day when looking back at the past, these are the moments we will remember. Then I thought it would be nice for someone like me who has enjoyed these privileges, to return something to this city, at least twice a year, on the derby days, those days in which the heart of the city beats at Milan’s San Siro Stadium. And to help those who, in this city, are much less fortunate than ourselves.

“I know from experience that the two clubs do a great deal to help out, as I have learned in recent months of the many initiatives undertaken by the Milan Foundation. Mine is just a personal initiative and a ‘challenge’ to someone who has also received a lot from Milan, my friend and opponent this year, Roberto Mancini. The idea is this – we will choose before each derby a charity or group in need, to help with a donation and then whoever wins the derby…will pay. After a victory the display of generosity will be even higher than usual. And if we draw, we won’t share the amount, but we’ll double it.

“I always thought that acts of solidarity should be private and not public, but I believe that this initiative could have a positive effect and be emulated, even among our players and between Milan and Inter supporters – loyal opponents but never enemies. There is an issue that has existed for many years and in recent days it has become increasingly urgent: that of migrants. Men, women, children, multitudes of desperate people who are fleeing from wars, genocide, famine, poverty. It is a problem that is particularly close to my heart because I saw it with my own eyes and lived through it in my own country, when the civil war transformed the former Yugoslavia. Even my parents and so many of my family members were migrants fleeing the war. They were lucky enough, despite the tragedy, to have a child or family member to help them out, house them, help them to move on.

“I helped, as much as I could, so many people who I had never seen before. I don’t remember their names but I remember their eyes of each of them and their hidden suffering inside. Eyes that said more than a thousand words. Almost all of those who flee and seek asylum do so out of desperation and I know how difficult it can be for entire families who are uprooted, and for adult men and women trying to rebuild their lives after 50 or 60 years.

“I will not enter into talks concerning European policies, or analyse the reasons of States that are not able to accommodate everyone. I do not want to open debates, I am just a football coach. But in Milan I know there are organisations that are concerned with helping those who now live through this drama and find acceptance.

“We’ll pick one. It is also an opportunity for the public to help in addition, beyond what each of us does in private. Whoever wins the derby, will pay. Mancio, are you with me?”


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