Leonardo Bonucci

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Juve’s Bonucci condemns racism following widespread criticism

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Leonardo Bonucci has been widely criticized by the media and his peers for his post-match reaction to the racial abuse hurled at Juventus teammate Moise Kean on Tuesday.

The 19-year-old Kean had been booed and heard monkey noises chanted at him during Juve’s 2-0 win over Cagliari, including a number of jeers after he scored the second goal and spread his arms wide to the crowd.

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Bonucci claimed the blame was “50-50” between Kean and the fans, saying the player provoked the angry reactions. Most of the world said that racism is never okay, even if provoked, and Bonucci now claims he was misunderstood after the heat of a 90-minute match.

A senior leader on the team, Bonucci’s needed 24 hours to back his teammate on Instagram.

“After 24 hours I want to clarify my feelings. Yesterday 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.”

There’s something to the “I wasn’t thinking straight” and Bonucci did not have a catalog of bad actions prior to his “50-50” comments, so his straight-up condemnation of racism is a good start (though an “I’m sorry” would’ve been nice).

Bonucci criticized for saying Kean “50-50” to blame for racist abuse

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Leonardo Bonucci has been roundly criticized for comments he made after teammate Moise Kean was subjected to racist abuse during Juventus’ 2-0 victory over Cagliari on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Allegri asks for lifetime bans after Kean racially abused ]

Whereas Juve manager Massimiliano Allegri called for the fans hurling racist abuse at Juve and Italy’s 19-year-old rising star to be banned for life, Bonucci said, “I think the blame is 50-50, because Moise shouldn’t have [celebrated like that] and the [fans] should not have reacted that way.”

A number of the game’s most prominent black stars, including Raheem Sterling and Memphis Depay, hit back directly at Bonucci for all to see, while the likes of Paul Pogba, Blaise Matuidi and Mario Balotelli, among others, have posted full-throated support of Kean on social media.

(Google Translate: As captain of Juventus I am disappointed in your reaction, the boy can rejoice as he wants. His role is essential for his team and he plays with great pride for his country Italy. He must be respected for this.)

Cagliari president Tommaso Giulini’s comments on the matter were equally un-empathetic and slanted — quotes from the Guardian:

“I don’t want people to start being self-righteous about it, because I heard that already, whereas Juventus players came to me afterwards and confessed Kean was wrong to celebrate that way.

“We cannot go around calling the entire Cagliari crowd offensive things. If there were racist jeers, then our fans got it wrong, but it happened because of the celebration and would’ve happened even if the goalscorer had a different color of skin.”

Allegri asks for lifetime bans after Kean racially abused

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Leonardo Bonucci didn’t exactly have his teammate’s back after Moise Kean was racially jeered following a goal in Juventus’ defeat of Cagliari.

Kean, who is black, scored an 85th minute goal to give the Serie A leaders a 2-0 lead.

The player was then racially abused by fans, with teammate Blaise Matuidi understandably offended and angry. And whereas Juve manager Max Allegri said fans needed to be banned for life when caught doing such things, Bonucci thinks blame lies on both side.

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His comments are stunning stuff but also not out of character with the backwards racial incidents sometimes on display in Italian football. From Football-Italia:

“Kean knows that when he scores a goal, he has to focus on celebrating with his teammates. He knows he could’ve done something differently too,” Bonucci told Sky Sport Italia.

“There were racist jeers after the goal, Blaise heard it and was angered. I think the blame is 50-50, because Moise shouldn’t have done that and the Curva should not have reacted that way.”

50-50? We have to hope something’s been lost in translation.

Allegri did say that Kean shouldn’t have provoked the fans, but said, “That, of course, does not mean the idiots in the crowd and the way they reacted should be justified.”

Now you might agree, in a sense, that Kean provoked angry comments. But this wasn’t him being called a simple profane name or shouted that he stinks; There’s no excuse for tossing racial barbs in 2019. No excuse.

Kean, for what it’s worth, is understandably not in an apologetic mood, taking a page from Raheem Sterling.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

The best way to respond to racism 🦍 #notoracism 🚫

A post shared by K M B 9 🦍 (@moise_kean) on

To recap: In Bonucci’s book, spreading your arms on the touch line after being booed and getting monkey chants is cause enough to hear racial slurs. Cool, cool.

Can you imagine if Gareth Southgate or one of Sterling’s white English teammates hedged in their criticism of racial attacks on Sterling over the international break? Hardly, which is a true indictment on Bonucci and also something much larger than him.

See the goal after a description of the abuse, which came after Kean was booed all night.

Juventus clobbers Frosinone to open 14 point Serie A lead

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Paulo Dybala and Leonardo Bonucci found the back of the net inside the opening 20 minutes, and that was all she wrote as Juventus hammered 19th placed Frosinone 3-0 to jump 14 points clear at the top of the Serie A table and remain unbeaten in the Italian top flight.

Dybala was first on the scoresheet just six minutes into the match, striking from straightaway outside the box and ripping a missile into the top-right corner, leaving a late-reacting Marco Sportiello sprawled on the ground. The goal is Dybala’s first league strike since November, ending a 10-match scoreless streak in thunderous fashion.

In the 17th minute, with Juventus picking its spots, they struck again, this time on a corner. The ball pinged around the area as Cristiano Ronaldo and Mario Mandzukic both got touched, and eventually it fell to Sami Khedira at the far post who looked to be in position to hammer it home. The shot was blocked by the mass of bodies on the doorstep, but Bonucci got to the ball right on the line and poked it in.

Frosinone had only managed one shot on target by halftime, and after the break, Juventus put the game away. Who else would be there to put the game over the line but Ronaldo, who finished off a Mandzukic cross on the counter with a vicious low, right-footed effort in the 63rd minute.

Juventus eased the game out from there, finishing with 60% possession and holding Frosinone to just the one shot on target while popping off six of their own. They were dominant in the air and on the ground, winning 23 of 30 aerial duels and completing seven of an attempted 10 take-ons.

The win sent Juventus a massive 14 points clear at the top of the Serie A table, still undefeated on the season in league play with 66 points out of a possible 72. They are well on their way to an eighth straight league title, an unprecedented streak of Italian top flight dominance.

Italy finally finds way past Horvath, USMNT

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The United States men’s national team closed out its 2018 with almost as many questions as it closed out 2017, losing 1-0 on a stoppage time goal in Belgium.

Actually, there may be more questions after the result, as goalkeeper Ethan Horvath made a statement between the sticks with more than a half-dozen saves in place of injured Zack Steffen.

Italy scored in the fourth minute of stoppage time, a terrific team goal completed by two tremendous touches from scorer Matteo Politano.

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The first half-hour was marked by significant Italian possession, and most notable for some dogged interventions from alert USMNT goalkeeper Horvath.

The Club Brugge man played well in Belgium, stopping Leonardo Bonucci point-blank on the Italians’ best chance of the first half.

Horvath was busy again in the 44th minute, reacting quickly to an untouched Marco Verratti free kick.

Fortunately for the U.S., there were few ideas on display from Roberto Mancini’s men.

Verratti headed over the goal within the first 10 minutes of the second half, but the Americans had a chance for an unlikely opener with a 56th minute free kick. Nothing.

Horvath was back in the spotlight with an in-tight leg save after Walker Zimmerman put off a driving Kevin Lasagna in the 59th after Bonucci sent him over the top of the defense.

A Kellyn Acosta free kick found Zimmerman at the back post, but Salvatore Sirigu was there for his first save of the afternoon.

Hoffenheim’s Vincenzo Grifo forced Horvath into a flying save in the 70th minute, and Mancini’s men couldn’t do anything with the ensuing corner. He’d then stymy another 1v1 chance on the left side in the 72nd.

Lasagna probably should’ve given Italy a winner in the final 10 minutes, but he smashed the ball over the bar.

Substitute Romain Gall forced a corner kick out of a diving Sirigu in the 90th minute, but the youngster’s corner didn’t clear Italy’s line.

Verratti and substitute Moise Keane played Politano on goal, with Sebastian Lletget leaving Politano after the Inter man started the play and Aaron Long unable to switch in time.