Ranieri promises that Jankto won’t have problems at Cagliari as Serie A’s first openly gay player

Cagliari coach Claudio Ranieri insists that Serie A's first openly gay player won't have problems in Sardinia, but believes that more will have to be done to protect him from "idiots who shout things".

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Cagliari coach Claudio Ranieri insisted that new signing Jakub Jankto will have no problems at the Sardinian club after the midfielder announced in February 2023 that he was gay his return to Italian football sees him become the first openly gay player in Serie A. He previously appeared for both Sampdoria and Udinese.

The 27-year-old spent the 2022/23 campaign on loan from Spanish side Getafe at Sparta Prague in his native Czechia, but in April 2023 announced that he was taking a break from football due to health concerns, announcing on Instagram: “In recent years, and especially the last year, so many things have accumulated around me that it is better to slow down and think about my health as well.”

However, Jankto is now back in Serie A, after the newly promoted club agreed a deal with La Liga outfit Getafe, as they look to hold onto their top-flight status this season, having been promoted from Serie B via the playoffs in 2022/23.

Ranieri only focused on Jankto playing qualities

In response to recent comments passed by Italy’s Minister for Sport and Youth, Andrea Abodi, about the imminent arrival of Jankto, Ranieri insisted that his playing qualities were all that mattered. Abodi had been accused of holding homophobic views due to a curious choice of words when discussing the matter, but he has since clarified that he is fully supportive of Jankto, and any gay footballer, and hopes that “a thousand more players come out”.

Jakub Jankto celebrates a goal for Samp. (Photo: Getty)

“I chose Jankto for his [playing] qualities, but also because this team is a family, he won’t have any problems at Cagliari,” Ranieri told Corriere della Sera. “If I read [Abodi’s words] correctly, he said there is no problem. There is no more controversy. I know the Minister; he is an honest, competent and sensitive person.”

Having previously coached Jankto at Sampdoria, the 71-year-old Ranieri noted that he and Cagliari president Tommaso Giulini, “made no other assessments other than those relating to a good player, who is intelligent, suitable for my project, serious, available and a great professional.”

What reaction will Jankto receive in Italy?

Jakub Jankto celebrates a goal for Samp. (Photo: Getty)

Although the Premier League-winning coach reiterated his support for Jankto, Ranieri admitted there could be incidents within Serie A stadiums, suggesting that, ”there will be some idiot who will say something, but we will have to go further [to protect him].”

However, Cagliari have had their own brushes with controversy because of the conduct of their fans, with a brawl breaking out at full-time after a clash with AC Milan in March 2022, after the fans were accused of racially abusing Mike Maignan and Fikayo Tomori.

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