The defender shamefully accusing his Juventus team-mate of provoking the racist abuse he received in Cagliari merely emboldens the ignorant
The American political activist Eldridge Cleaver once said, "There is no more neutrality in the world. You either have to be part of the solution, or you're going to be a part of the problem."
On Tuesday evening, Leonardo Bonucci chose the latter.
After seeing and hearing his club and international team-mate Moise Kean racially abused throughout Juventus' 2-0 win at Cagliari, the defender staggeringly accused the Italian-born son of Ivorian parents of provocation.
Kean's crime? Having the temerity to silently celebrate scoring his side's second goal in front of those who had spent the preceding 85 minutes abusing him.
"Kean knows that when he scores a goal, he has to focus on celebrating with his team-mates," Bonucci told Sky Sport Italia. "He knows he could’ve done something differently too.
"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.
"We are professionals, we have to set the example and not provoke anyone.
"I prefer to talk about the great performance."
And with that, Bonucci moved on, apparently feeling that he had adequately addressed the issue that had completely overshadowed the game in Sardegna, and continues to overshadow the game as a whole.
Happily, former Italy defender Daniele Adani wasn't done talking about it. He was understandably mortified by this latest embarrassing episode for Italian football and even more depressed by his certainty that, once again, nothing would be done about it.
"We have made a sh*t impression on the world for the umpteenth time," he told Sky Sport. "It is a defeat for everyone. It's truly disgusting.
"We need to identify those 20, 100, however many imbeciles, and throw them out by the balls, as happens in foreign leagues."
Remarkably, Cagliari president Tommaso Giulini took issue with Adani's comments, accusing him of "self-righteous" moralising.
The stupidity of Giulini's counter-argument was mind-blowing, even for someone so ignorant.
"If Federico Bernardeschi had celebrated like that, he would’ve been treated exactly the same way by our fans," he claimed.
"If Paulo Dybala had the same drama queen antics after the goal that Blaise Matuidi did, he would’ve been treated exactly the same 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 colour of skin.
“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."
And this is the major problem with Bonucci's comments on Kean needing to accept his share of the blame; this pathetic attempt at neutrality merely emboldens the likes of Giulini and supports their claims of provocation. As if that justifies racial abuse!
As Giorgio Chiellini pointed out, the only mistake Kean had made all evening was diving earlier in the game "but he didn't deserve those kind of insults". Nobody does, in any situation.
In addition, the insinuation that Bernardeschi would have been racially abused for being white had he celebrated in such fashion – in silent protest, remember! – beggars belief.
The argument that it was only a select few doesn't carry any water, either.
“All I heard were whistles and jeers, but if you with your microphones picked up a few isolated racist insults, then of course those were wrong," Giulini conceded before quickly adding "but there’s no need to be self-righteous about it and cast a shadow over the entire Cagliari fanbase or the club.”
That's true, but, as Miralem Pjanic said, this is not even the first time Juventus players have been racially abused at Cagliari. They have an issue with racism and – like so many clubs in Italy, and beyond – have clearly done nothing to address it.
Furthermore, it is always a small minority; so what? That's missing the point entirely. Even one person shouting racial abuse is one too many.
The guilty parties need to be removed from the stadium – for good – but that's simply not happening. The usual response to racism – or the territorialism that fans from the south of Italy are so often subjected to – are derisory fines, which do not act as effective deterrents at all.
Even partial or full stadium closures achieve nothing. And why would they? What's the point in closing the Curva for a game if you allow the racists back in the very next week?
Grounds should be closed for entire seasons AND points should be docked. Then, clubs – and indeed the fans themselves – would finally tackle the issue of racists in their stands.
As Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri said, "It’s very simple: identify the [racists] and don't give them a one or two-year ban; 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."
And that's the crux of the issue here.
Difficult as it is to fathom, racism is not a major issue for Giulini and his kind, who continue to defend the indefensible, with the support of apologists like Bonucci, who, even more unbelievably propagate the ludicrous and dangerous notion that racist abuse is an inevitable response to 'provocation'.
Racism in any form should not, cannot, be justified. Not by diving. Not by 'provocation'. Not by anything.
The best way to respond to racism, as Kean explained, is stand and face it, just as he did in Cagliari on Tuesday night.
It was a powerful protest. And yet Bonucci deemed it an act of provocation, which just begs the question:
If some people still don't even understand the problem, what hope is there of ever finding a solution?