Leonardo Bonucci’s suggestion that Juventus team-mate Moise Kean was partly to blame for the racist abuse he received from Cagliari fans is laughable, says Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling.
Kean, 19, spread his arms while facing the home fans after scoring Juve’s second goal in Tuesday’s Serie A win.
Bonucci said Kean “could have done it differently” and “the blame is 50-50”.
England international Sterling, 24, said: “All you can do now is laugh.”
Sterling celebrated in a similar manner after scoring in England’s 5-1 win over Montenegro in Podgorica last month, during which racist chanting was directed at several England players.
Sterling, who gestured to the crowd by putting his hands to his ears, later called on football’s authorities to take “a proper stance” against racist abuse.
He referred to 31-year-old Italy defender Bonucci in a post on his Instagram story on Wednesday, quoting “the blame is 50-50” followed by a series of laughing emojis and clapping hands.
Following the game, Bonucci told Sky Sport Italia: “Kean knows that when he scores a goal, he has to focus on celebrating with his team-mates. He knows he could’ve done something differently too.
“There were racist jeers after the goal. Blaise (Matuidi) heard it and was angered. I think the blame is 50-50, because Moise shouldn’t have done that and the Curva (fans) should not have reacted that way.
“We are professionals. We have to set the example and not provoke anyone.”
Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri said Kean “shouldn’t have celebrated in that manner” before calling on the authorities to act.
Kean posted the picture of his celebration on Instagram after the game with the caption: “The best way to respond to racism.”
His agent, Mino Raiola, told BBC Sport that anyone at Juventus not willing to fight racism should leave the club.
“Nobody should justify racism in any way or form,” he said. “Racism is equal as ignorance. There is no excuse for it. Federation, clubs and players should draw one line.
“A country like Italy should be leading on this given how many millions of Italians live abroad. You cannot be racist and Italian. You cannot be human and racist.
“I am with my players until the end. If in the team or the club there are people who are not willing to fight racism they should be leaving.”
Juventus midfielder Matuidi tweeted a photo of the celebration in support of Kean, while Manchester United and former Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba said: “I support every fight against racism, we’re all equal.”
He added in Italian: “Good Italians wake up, you can’t let a small racist group speak for you.”
Another ex-Juventus player, Patrice Evra, said the abuse was “not acceptable in football or anywhere in the world”.
“Well done to Moise Kean for standing up to them and showing them who is boss,” he tweeted. “The world would be a better place if we all shared more love no matter what.”
Italy international Mario Balotelli shared a picture of Kean with Matuidi and wrote: “Although we are divided and different in our destiny, nothing else has to divide us. I condemn racism in any form and place for EVER.”
Juventus, who have won the past four Serie A titles, are 18 points clear at the top of the table with eight games remaining this season.