The centre-back’s country is in the spotlight again after Romelu Lukaku was targeted for abuse by Cagliari fans
Leonardo Bonucci has said that racism is a ‘plague that has to be eradicated’ but added that fingers should not be pointed solely at Italy as abuse has been witnessed in more leagues than just Serie A.
The Juventus defender, currently on international duty for Italy’s European Championship qualifiers against Armenia and Finland, was responding to the recent verbal attacks directed at Inter striker Romelu Lukaku during a match with Cagliari.
The Belgian, formerly of Manchester United, was subjected to monkey chants before, during and after taking the winning penalty in a 2-1 win at the Sardegna Arena and stated on social media after the game that he feels society is ‘going backwards’.
Inter’s Curva Nord fans issued an open letter to Lukaku following his statement, insisting that Italy does not have a racism problem and that the chanting is a form of respect intended to ‘help teams’ against black players who might score against them.
The statement served only to highlight ignorance on behalf of the Nerazzurri ultras, with Lukaku’s fellow striker Demba Ba expressing his desire to see all black players leave Serie A until fans realise what they are doing is wrong.
Bonucci, however, who had to backtrack on comments he made around a racist incident involving former Bianconeri team-mate Moise Kean, has said that Italy should not be singled out, as hateful acts are committed by fans from all over Europe.
“It’s a delicate situation,”
The 32-year-old told a press conference.
“There are certainly measures to hold the guilty ones responsible.
“I believe it is not right to generalise. We have entities and means to take the guilty ones and ban them from entering stadiums.
“And I don’t think this happens only in Italy, we have seen such episodes in other European leagues as well.
“So I think it would be too much to point a finger, but racism is a plague that has to be eradicated.”
Italy first face Armenia at the Vazgen Sargsyan Republican Stadium in Yerevan on September 5 before travelling to Tampere to face Finland three days later on September 8.