The Dancing Kean

Moise Kean. You’ve got to love his thick skin in the face of discrimination.

This extraordinary teenager came off the bench for Juventus on Saturday against AC Milan, scored a goal with a legendary low-finish (with an assist from Miralem Pjanic) and then proceeded to dance in celebration.

And which player came to join in the celebration first? Leo Bonnuci, the same person who less than a week ago said Kean was partly to blame for the racist abuse against him by Cagliari fans. He also was a factor in opposing side Milan’s goal on Saturday.

Bonucci (middle) celebrates with Moise Kean after he scored the winning goal in the 84th minute
Bonucci (middle) celebrates with Moise Kean after he scored the winning goal in the 84th minute

Moise Kean has now scored 5 goals in 6 appearances for Juve since the beginning of March and he’s really not leaving room for the fans of the ‘Old Lady’ to miss their fairly new main man Cristiano Ronaldo, who’s down with an injury picked up on international duty.

Many people are telling Moise Kean to dance on and are hoping that he continues to play even after Ronaldo returns.

His skills have secured Juventus their seventh straight Scudetto and denied AC Milan another win in the Derby d’Italia.

Juventus players celebrate their win over AC Milan in the Derby d'Italia
Juventus players celebrate their win over AC Milan in the Derby d’Italia

Who is Moise Kean?

Although he just turned 19, the Italian-born Ivorian has been on everyone’s lips, and not just for his game-changing style of play.

On Tuesday, a week after England’s star players were racially abused during an international match in Montenegro, Moise Kean, a rising star in Italian football was subject to racist abuse during a Serie A match between Juventus and Cagliari.

The teenager had to endure monkey chants and a rude Italian gesture known as a ‘buu’ (which sounds exactly like it looks) from a section of Cagliari fans during a game Juventus won away 2-0.

After scoring his team’s second goal late in the match, the 19-year-old held his arms aloft in front of the home fans, which intensified the abuse.

“The best way to respond to racism,” he wrote on Instagram afterwards aside a picture of himself with arms outstretched.

Instead of receiving support from his teammates, however, Kean was reprimanded, and even told the incident was partly his fault.

Leonardo Bonucci was one of the players that came over to Kean, pulling him away as he stood and celebrated in front of the Cagliari fans with his arms outstretched.

Left: Bonucci celebrates his goalRight: Bonucci leads Kean away form the Cagliari fans Left: Bonucci celebrates his goal

Right: Bonucci leads Kean away form the Cagliari fansIn his post-match interview with SkySport Italia, the Juventus centre-back, who scored the first goal in the match was critical of his teammate's actions:Left: Bonucci celebrates his goal; Right: Bonucci leads Kean away from jeering fans[/caption]

Speaking to Sky Sport Italia after the match, Bonucci said:

“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 should not have reacted that way.”We are professionals, we have to set the example and not provoke anyone.”

Of course since he made those controversial remarks, many have supported the fact that Kean stood up to racist supporters, including fellow ‘black’ footballers Raheem Sterling and Mario Balotelli who have also been victims of racist abuse.

And many more have slammed Bonucci’s post-match comments.

England and Manchester City star Raheem Sterling led the criticism of the defender’s remarks, posting on Instagram: “All you can do now is laugh,” while English rapper Stormzy has also gone against Bonucci on the same social media platform.

Much traveled striker Mario Balotelli, while speaking to ESPN in February said that racism in Italy was much worse than in any other country he had played in, commented on Kean’s Instagram post:

“Bravo. Bonucci is lucky that I wasn’t there. Instead of defending you he does this? I am shocked,” he wrote.

Bonucci, 31, has since posted an Instagram story which said: “Regardless of everything, in any case … No to racism.”

But that did little to calm the storm caused by his initial reaction.

Netherlands and Lyon Memphis Depay directly addressed Bonucci on Twitter, posting: “I am disappointed in your reaction … We will not be quiet!”

Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba reposted Kean’s picture, with the caption: “I support every fight against racism, we’re all equal.”

Among those also supporting Kean was former Juventus and Manchester United defender Patrice Evra tweeted: “This is not acceptable in football or anywhere in the world. Well done to @MoiseKean for standing up to them and showing them who is boss.”

Former Barcelona and Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure has described Leonardo Bonucci and Massimiliano Allegri’s criticism of Moise Kean after suffering racist abuse as ‘unbelievable’ and ‘a disgrace’.

During a UEFA’s Equal Game conference on Wednesday, Toure who has been advocating for severe punishment for culprits found guilty of racism called out the Juventus manager, Massimiliano Allegri and the experienced centre-back for their initial responses and he awaits the decision of the Italian FA regarding the issue.

“For me, it’s a disgrace. You can’t do that,” Toure was quoted as saying by ESPN.

“It was unbelievable. A teammate, a manager saying: ‘You shouldn’t have done that’ to one of your own players.

“I want to know if the Italian FA is here today?

“I want to see what the Italian FA is going to do about that. It’s really important because this is what we’re fighting for. I want to see what the response is.

“I have been in football for many years now and to be honest I haven’t seen progress. It’s always the same things. We are in 2019 now and look at what happened yesterday?”

Meanwhile, Nigeria international and Brighton defender Leon Balogun has expressed his support for Kean but is still stunned by Bonucci’s comments.

“We’re standing united behind you brother, Moise Kean,” Balogun tweeted. “Wondering how Leonardo Bonucci would react if you do the same thing in front of him after scoring your next goal.”

24 hours after his outburst, the Italian defender has now issued a statement seeking to clarify his interview about the racial abuse the 19-year-old received:

“After 24 hours I want to clarify my feelings,” he said on his official Instagram.

“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.”

In the aftermath of the game, Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri said that there should be a lifetime ban handed down to the fans chanting racist abuse:

“He scored another goal and did better in the second half, whereas he got more or less everything wrong in the first half,” he told Sky Sport Italia.

“I didn’t hear anything from the stands, as I was focused on the game. You need great intelligence to deal with these situations and should not go to provoke people. That, of course, does not mean the idiots in the crowd and the way they reacted should be justified.

“As always in life, there are idiots who do stupid things and ruin it for everyone else. I don’t think talking about it all the time helps. I don’t think halting play helps, because not everyone in the stadium did that.”

“I Can’t Wait to See the Back of Football”

England's Danny Rose walks past jeering Montenegro fans
England’s Danny Rose walks past jeering Montenegro fans

These are the words of England International, Danny Rose in response to the recent racist incidents in football.

I can’t wait to see the back of football.

When countries get fined what I probably spend on a night out in London, what do you expect?

How I programme myself is that I think I have five or six more years left in football. There is so much politics.

I can’t wait to see the back of it.

– Danny Rose

The game has become greatly hampered by people who seem to just now see the skin colour of their favourite players.

Euro 2020 Qualifiers

Some of England’s star players who played during the international break against Montenegro were racially abused, causing Raheem Sterling to speak out yet again.

Sterling has become a voice of reason and a sort of ambassador of equality in football.

Racists chants were reportedly directed at a number of England players, with defender Danny Rose subjected to monkey chants towards the end of the match, when the Tottenham player was being shown a yellow card.

Speaking to Sky Sports in the mixed zone after the match, Sterling said:
“All of us know what skin color we are so they’re not saying anything new.

“It’s 2019, I keep saying it, and it’s a shame to see this keeps going on.

“We can only bring awareness and light to the situation. It’s now time for the people in charge to put a real stamp on it. You’ve got to punish people a bit harder, you’ve gotta do something that makes them think twice.
“If you can’t play in front of fans then that’s going to make them think harder. Me and the FA can only do so much, we’ve got to leave it to the people in charge to make a proper stance on it.”

Raheem Sterling celebrates and puts his hands to his ears during England's 5-0 win over Montenegro
Raheem Sterling celebrates and puts his hands to his ears during England’s 5-0 win over Montenegro

On Monday, England manager Gareth Southgate described the incidents as “unacceptable” and “very sad,” especially as Callum Hudson-Odoi who had an amazing international debut was not asked about the experience, but rather about the racist comments of fans.

Callum Hudson-Odoi
Callum Hudson-Odoi
On Monday, England manager Gareth Southgate described the incidents as “unacceptable” and “very sad.”

He told reporters: “We had an excellent performance and have an 18-year-old [Callum Hudson-Odoi] being interviewed after the game having to respond to what’s happened when his evening should be about the joy of his full debut.

“It’s 2019, I keep saying it, and it’s a shame to see this keeps going on.”

Punches and Shoves in place of Passes and Shots

Yesterday was an impactful day in football history, what with Arsenal ending Manchester United’s 12 game unbeaten run with a 2-0 defeat at the North London Emirates Stadium. But that isn’t all that went down yesterday.

The game of football is a well known contact sport and those who cross the red line of friendly tackles get warned, booked or even sent off. So that’s the players taken care of. But what about when it’s the fans?

There has been an increasing amount of racist behavior and violence on the part of fans. It has now gotten so serious that players actually fear for their lives.

Raheem Sterling has previously complained about the racist taunts from a Chelsea fan during a game this season, and even the way he is represented in the media, that is, with a strong racist undertone. A Tottenham supporter even threw a banana at Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Manchester City's Raheem Sterling taunted by Chelsea fans.
Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling taunted by Chelsea fans. Credit: Sky Sports
Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has a banana skin thrown at him by Tottenham fans
Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has a banana skin thrown at him by Tottenham fans. Credit: Getty Images

Now things have gotten even more serious. Yesterday evening, during Arsenal’s match against Manchester United, a fan of the North London club ran on the pitch and shoved United defender Chris Smalling before running with his arms wide open towards the Arsenal players. Smalling was unharmed and the man was arrested, but it does not detract from the gravity of the situation.

Where were the match stewards? Surely they should have expected this to happen during a match between two club’s with a long history of rivalry.

An Arsenal spokesperson said: “We utterly condemn the behaviour of the individual who ran on to the pitch and approached Chris Smalling during today’s match.

“We would like to apologise to Chris and Manchester United, and are pleased that [the spectator] was apprehended and arrested. We will be working closely with the Metropolitan Police in their investigation.

“The individual will also be banned from Arsenal matches home and away. Our matchday staff receive ongoing training on managing incidents such as this.”

Shortly after the match, a statement from the Metropolitan Police said: “A man has been arrested on suspicion of common assault and pitch invasion following an incident during the Arsenal v Man Utd game at the Emirates Stadium today.

“He is currently in custody at a north London police station.”

Arsenal boss Unai Emery said the incident was something he “did not want” to see and called on all fans to show “respect”.

Now, this incident came only hours after a more serious one, also on the pitch.

During Aston Villa’s derby match against Birmingham earlier yesterday, Jack Grealish, an Aston Villa midfielder was assaulted by a Birmingham fan just 9 minutes into the game. The man, who has been identified as 27-year-old Paul Mitchell, evaded the match stewards, ran on to the pitch, and punched Grealish from behind, knocking him to the ground.

He was quite calm about the whole thing, although both Aston Villa and Birmingham City players went after him.

Grealish went on to score the game’s only goal in his side’s 1-0 victory and said there was “no place” in football for the type of incident he had to endure.

“I was walking into position and then just felt a whack around the side of the face. Obviously, there’s rivalry and stuff in football, but I don’t think there’s any place for that.”- Jack Grealish, Aston Villa Midfielder.

Birmingham now face the threat of a stadium closure or even a points deduction as the FA began an inquiry into this unprecedented incident in English football.

The club have apologised to Grealish and pledged to ban the supporter for life.

Some supporters in the Tilton End actually applauded Mitchell as he was escorted from the field by stewards before being immediately arrested by West Midlands Police.

Ashley Young, the United and England defender, says players could be “in danger” and has called for change.

“It is the third time that a fan has managed to get on the pitch,” he said. “What if they are carrying something? The players will be in danger. It is definitely something that the FA, Premier League and Fifa [need to look at]. It has to be done. Maybe extra stewarding. It is a concern with the one earlier today [Grealish] and the one on Chrissy [Smalling]. Something has to be done.”

The ‘third time’ refers to is Friday’s incident. On the 8th of March, Rangers captain James Tavernier was confronted by a 21 year old man at Easter Road.The man attempted to kick the ball away from Tavernier as he moved to pick it up to take a throw in.

Police lead James Tavernier away from the scene with the fan
Police lead James Tavernier away from the scene with the fan.

The two then laid hands on each other before the fan was led away by police. The man attempted to kick the ball away from Tavernier as he moved to pick it up to take a throw in. The two then laid hands on each other before the fan was led away by police.

Hibernian chief executive Leeann Dempster said that “nothing is off the table” after Rangers captain James Tavernier was confronted by a man at Easter Road. She added that the man will be banned and that she will personally apologies to Tavernier.

This incident also comes six days after Celtic’s Scott Sinclair was almost hit by a glass bottle thrown by a Hibernian supporter last week.

The game's referee picks up the bottle thrown at a player
The game’s referee picks up the bottle thrown at a player.

It’s happening in the Premier League and in the Scottish League and it’s happening all over the world. Football has gone beyond being a friendly game with no more than a few altercations between players or even fights at bars, pubs and viewing centers. Now the fans are getting bolder and much more vocal and physical, what with the media and all.

These incidents take the word ‘fanatic’ to a whole different level.