Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci has said he was “misunderstood” and “too hasty” in saying teammate Moise Kean was partly responsible for the racist abuse the teenager suffered during a Serie A match on Tuesday.
Immediately after Juve’s 2-0 win over Cagliari, Bonucci had said Kean – who had held his arms aloft in front of the home fans after scoring the second goal of the match – had to take “50-50 of the blame” for the abuse he was subjected to.
The 19-year-old, born in Italy to Ivorian parents, had to endure monkey chants from some Cagliari fans during the game with the abuse intensifying when he scored after 85 minutes.
“Moise should not have done that and the Curva [fans] should not have reacted in that way,” the defender told Sky Sports Italia on Tuesday.
But in an Instagram post on Wednesday evening, Bonucci said: “After 24 hours I want to clarify my feelings.
“Yesterday [Tuesday] I was interviewed right at the end of the game, and my words have been clearly misunderstood, probably because I was too hasty in the way I expressed my thoughts.
“Hours and years wouldn’t be enough to talk about this topic. I firmly condemn all forms of racism and discrimination. The abuses are not acceptable at all and this must not be misunderstood.”
Sterling leads condemnation
On Tuesday, England and Manchester City star Raheem Sterling led the criticism of the defender’s remarks, posting on Instagram: “All you can do now is laugh,” while English rapper Stormzy has also lambasted Bonucci on the same social media platform.
Netherlands and Lyon forward Memphis Depay directly addressed Bonucci on Twitter, posting: “I am disappointed in your reaction … We will not be quiet!” and Eni Aluko, who plays for Juventus’s women team, tweeted: “I choose to support my Juve counterpart not blame him.”
“The best way to respond to racism,” Kean had written on Instagram after the match, aside a picture of himself with arms outstretched.
Much traveled striker Mario Balotelli, who in February told ESPN that racism in Italy was much worse than in any other country he had played in, commented on the picture, saying: “Bravo. Bonucci is lucky that I wasn’t there. Instead of defending you he does this? I am shocked.”
A warning was issued to the crowd
Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri had also criticized Kean for his celebration on Tuesday, but went on to later say that the authorities did not want to tackle racism and described those racially abusing Kean as “idiots who do stupid things and ruin it for everyone else.”
Cagliari president, Tommaso Giulini, told Sky Italia that any Juventus player would have received the same treatment. “Kean was wrong as the Juventus players also said … if there were racist chants they must be condemned, of course,” he said.
According to reports, the match was delayed by around three minutes and a warning was issued to the crowd over the public address system.
Juventus captain Giorgio Chiellini led the player protest to referee Piero Giacomelli, while Juve midfielder Blaise Matuidi – who complained last year that he was subject to racist abuse at the same stadium – also spoke to the referee and reportedly threatened to walk off.