Italy coach Roberto Mancini on Thursday apologised after a cartoon he shared on social media of a man in hospital created a storm of protest.
Mancini posted the cartoon on his Instagram stories, in which a nurse asks a patient in the hospital: "Do you have any idea how you got sick?".
"Watching the news," the patient replied.
The joke fell flat in a country where 16,079 new coronavirus cases and 136 deaths were recorded on Thursday, with close to 39,000 Italians having died since the start of the pandemic.
"I only shared a cartoon that seemed to me to play down such a complicated moment. That's all," Mancini, 55, later wrote on Twitter.
"There was no implied message and no intention of disrespecting patients and victims of Covid-19, if so, I apologise."