Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri wants the focus to be on football’s fight against racism and not Leonardo Bonucci after the Italy defender’s ill-received comments on the abuse directed towards his team-mate Moise Kean.
Teenage forward Kean was the subject of alleged racist chanting during Juve’s 2-0 win at Cagliari in midweek and celebrated his game-sealing goal by standing with his arms aloft in front of the home crowd.
A stadium announcement then called for fans to refrain from offensive behaviour and Bonucci told Sky Sport Italia afterwards that the blame for the flashpoint was “50-50” between Kean and the Cagliari supporters because the 19-year-old had incited them.
That take prompted widespread criticism from the likes of Raheem Sterling, Yaya Toure and Memphis Depay and Bonucci sought to clarify his position and apologised through two separate Instagram posts.
Allegri, who also told a post-match news conference that Kean should have shown more “intelligence” in his goal celebration, was keen to move on from the saga ahead of Saturday’s Serie A showdown with AC Milan.
“Racism must always be fought against and is never justifiable,” the Juve boss told reporters.
“With his mind still on the game, post-match, Leo Bonucci expressed himself badly but realised this and apologised. These two things are distinct.”
Dopo 24 ore desidero chiarire il mio pensiero. Ieri sera ho parlato alla fine della partita e mi sono espresso in modo evidentemente troppo sbrigativo, che è stato male interpretato su un argomento per il quale non basterebbero ore e per il quale si lotta da anni. Condanno ogni forma di razzismo e discriminazione. Certi atteggiamenti sono sempre ingiustificabili e su questo non ci possono essere fraintendimenti. // 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.
The unsavoury spectacle in Sardinia and its subsequent fallout took the focus away from a prolific run from Kean.
His goal against Cagliari was the Italy youngster’s sixth in seven appearances for club and country and he is likely to get another chance to impress against Milan, with Cristiano Ronaldo targeting next week’s Champions League quarter-final versus Ajax as he recuperates from a hamstring injury.
“I’m happy with how Kean is developing,” Allegri said.
“The important thing is that he becomes a great player by keeping his feet on the ground and continuing to work hard.”
If Juventus beat Milan and Napoli lose at home to Genoa on Sunday, the Bianconeri will be confirmed as Serie A champions for an eighth consecutive season.
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