European footballers support Italian after racial abuse



MILAN (AP) – A black player for the most popular football club of Italy won the support of other European players on Wednesday, a day after he was subjected to a torrent of racist abuse from fans of the opposing team.

Juventus striker, Moise Kean, scored the second goal for his team against Cagliari at the end of the 2-0 win on Tuesday and stood in front of local fans with outstretched arms. That seemed to trigger a furious and overtly racist protest from the fans.

One of his teammates, Leonardo Bonucci, added fuel to the fire by saying that Kean was partly responsible for the angry response. That led the players of other teams to run to Kean's defense.

The end of Manchester City, Raheem Sterling, who is black, ridiculed the comment: "Leonardo Bonucci … All you can do now is laugh." He also published a screenshot On twitter.

"I support every fight against racism, we are all equal," wrote Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba, in an Instagram post from Kean celebrating his goal. The Frenchman, who used to play for Juventus, then added, in Italian: "The good Italians wake up, you can not let a small group of racists speak for you".

Kean, a 19-year-old Italian whose parents are from Côte d'Ivoire, was insulted by local fans for much of Tuesday's game in Cagliari. He received a yellow card for faking an injury in the first half.

His goal and the resulting celebration seemed to push local fans to the limit.

The captain of Cagliari, Luca Ceppitelli, tried to protect Kean, rushing to his side and begging the fans to stop. Instead, Ceppitelli was almost hit in the head by a bottle thrown from the stands.

In his comments partially blamed Kean, Bonucci said: "There were racist boos after holding Kean and (Blaise) Matuidi was angry, but I think the fault is 50-50".

He added: "Kean made a mistake and the fans made a mistake."

Matuidi, who is also black and won the World Cup with France last year, was the target of racist abuse in Cagliari last year.

The incident involving Kean is just the latest example of racism in football this season. Last week, several players from England were attacked with monkey chants during the team's 5-1 victory in Montenegro.

Former Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure, a four-time African player of the year in Côte d'Ivoire, said players who are being attacked should leave the field.

"Yes, let's do this," Toure said at a UEFA conference on diversity in football. "When something like that happens, we have to send a strong message."

As the criticism mounted on Wednesday, Bonucci posted a photo in an Instagram story about him and Kean hugging.

"Regardless of everything, in any case … NOT RACISM," Bonucci wrote.

Another teammate of Juventus and the Italian national team, Giorgio Chiellini, defended Kean in a story published on the club's website, describing him as "a positive figure in Italian football".

"The only thing he did wrong today was the simulation (fake injury), which he probably will not repeat, but he's here to learn," Chiellini said. "He is a very positive figure and certainly did not deserve the insults he received."

Kean, who scored in both qualifying matches in Italy for the 2020 European Championship, also won backing from Mario Balotelli, another black Italian born of African parents and played for the national team of the country.

"And tell Bonucci that his luck is that he was not there," Balotelli wrote on Instagram. "Instead of defending yourself, does he do this? I'm surprised, I swear. I love you brother!"

Kean has not spoken publicly about the incident, but has posted a photo of his celebration of goals on Instagram.

"The best way to respond to racism," Kean wrote, "#notoracism."

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