Monza owner Silvio Berlusconi said he has promised his players a “busload” of prostitutes if they win one of their upcoming clashes with Serie A’s leading lights, including his old club AC Milan.
Speaking to sponsors and a players’ delegation at a Tuesday night Christmas dinner, the ex-Italian prime minister joked he wanted to give his players “extra encouragement” before the second half of the Serie A season beginning on January 4.
Monza face Juventus — in both league and cup — and Inter Milan next month as they restart their first ever season in Italy’s top flight, with the visit of champions AC Milan coming in mid-February.
“If they manage to beat one of those great teams I’ll send a busload of hookers to the dressing room,” Berlusconi said in a speech which was greeted with laughter and later posted on social media.
The 86-year-old tycoon was recently elected as a senator in the Italian parliament and leads the Forza Italia party, a partner in the coalition government led by far-right Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.
On Wednesday, the Five Star Movement’s Emma Pavanelli asked in Italy’s Chamber of Deputies what Meloni, the country’s first woman prime minister, “thinks of those shameful words”.
A former president of the parliament’s lower house and current MP, Laura Boldrini, blasted “vulgar sexism passed off as banter”.
“Obscene comments, made even more despicable by the fact they were uttered by a senator of the republic and a party leader,” Boldrini said on Twitter.
Berlusconi later said on social media that he regretted comments that were “as malevolent as they were insignificant”, calling them “mere dressing room banter” and saying his critics “lacked humour”.
Monza declined to comment on Berlusconi’s speech when contacted by AFP.
Berlusconi is still associated in Italy and abroad with “Rubygate”, a series of libertine parties he organised with young women, some of whom were minors.
He was acquitted of underage prostitution charges but remains on trial for witness tampering in that case.
Berlusconi bought Monza in 2018 for a reported three million euros with the club in the third tier.
The previous year he had sold Milan, who during his 31-year ownership became one of the titans of European football, for 740 million euros.
Monza sit 14th in Serie A after 15 games, nine points above the relegation zone, ahead of their first match of 2023 at Fiorentina.