Raheem Sterling has branded criticism of Moise Kean laughable after the Juventus striker was racially abused by fans on Tuesday.
Juve defender Leonardo Bonucci claimed team-mate Kean should take “50-50” of the blame for the abuse he suffered in his side’s 2-0 win at Cagliari.
England international Sterling, who was racially abused in last month’s Euro 2020 qualifier in Montenegro, took to Instagram to counter Bonucci’s argument.
“The blame is 50-50 @bonuccileo19,” Manchester City forward Sterling posted on his story alongside a number of laughing and applause emojis.
“All you can do now is laugh.”
Kean was abused all night by sections of Cagliari supporters, with monkey chants aimed at him, but the 19-year-old had the final say when scoring Juve’s second goal win with five minutes left.
The Italy striker stood next to the post, his arms spread in defiant response to the abuse coming from the stands behind.
His reaction was criticised by Bonucci, who told Sky Sport Italia after the game: “I think the blame is 50-50, because Moise shouldn’t have done that and the Curva (Cagliari’s ‘ultra’ fans) should not have reacted that way.
“We are professionals, we have to set the example and not provoke anyone.”
Also writing on Instagram, Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba said: “I support every fight against racism, we’re all equal.”
Pogba added in Italian: “Good Italians wake up, you can’t let a small racist group speak for you. #equalgame #respect”
Juventus captain Giorgio Chiellini led the player protests to referee Piero Giacomelli, who also spoke to both managers, about the racist abuse.
Cagliari skipper Luca Ceppitelli appealed directly to the home fans behind the goal for the offensive chants to stop.
Juve midfielder Blaise Matuidi appeared to gesture to manager Massimiliano Allegri that he should take his players off.
There was a delay of around three minutes. An announcement had been made over the public address system to highlight the issue – which was greeted by more jeers from some home supporters.
Afterwards, Kean posted a message on Instagram with a photo of his celebration and a caption which read: “The best way to respond to racism #notoracism”.
Allegri felt Kean should not have responded to the racist chants with his goal celebration – but called for the “idiots” responsible to be handed lifetime bans.
“He shouldn’t have celebrated in that manner,” Allegri said afterwards in a press conference reported by the club.
“He is a young man and he has to learn, but certain things from the crowd also shouldn’t be heard.”
In his post-match comments to broadcaster Sky Sport Italia, Allegri turned his attention to the need for the football authorities to tackle the “idiots” head on.
“You need great intelligence to deal with these situations and should not go to provoke people. That, of course, does not mean the idiots in the crowd and the way they reacted should be justified,” he said.
“As always in life, there are idiots who do stupid things and ruin it for everyone else.
“I don’t think talking about it all the time helps. I don’t think halting play helps, because not everyone in the stadium did that.
“We need to use the cameras, find those who are doing it and punish them. It’s very simple, identify them and not one-year ban or two, just give them a lifetime ban.
“We’ve got the technology, it can be done if the authorities want to. The problem is, they don’t really want to.”
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