Raheem Sterling has criticised Leonardo Bonucci after the Juventus defender claimed teenage team-mate Moise Kean was partly to blame for the racist abuse he suffered during Tuesday's Serie A match at Cagliari.
Kean scored his sixth goal in his past seven outings for club and country to seal a 2-0 victory for Massimiliano Allegri's side and celebrated by holding his arms outstretched in front of the home supporters at the Sardegna Arena.
The 19-year-old later posted an image of the celebration on his Instagram account with the caption: "The best way to respond to racism."
After Kean's gesture, the goalscorer and Juve's France midfielder Blaise Matuidi were visibly angered and an announcement was made at the stadium to warn fans against offensive behaviour.
Speaking to Sky Sport Italia after the match, Italy defender Bonucci suggested Kean should shoulder some of the responsibility for the incident because he incited the crowd.
"Kean knows that, when you score, it's enough to celebrate with the squad. He could have behaved differently," he said.
"There was racist booing, Matuidi got angry. It's a 50-50 - Moise was wrong, and the stand was wrong. We have to be an example."
Bonucci's remarks – and those of Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri, who also accused Kean of provocation but called for life bans to be handed to any perpetrators found – had already come in for criticism by the time Manchester City winger Sterling had his say via an Instagram story post.
"The blame is 50-50 @bonuccileo19[?]" it read. "All you can do now is laugh."
Sterling was one of the England players targeted by racist chanting during last week's 5-1 Euro 2020 qualification win in Montenegro and he marked completing the scoring by cupping his ears towards the home crowd.
UEFA subsequently charged Montenegro, who face a partial stadium closure following a spectacle the organisation's president Aleksander Ceferin described as a "disaster", and Sterling urged strong punishments after the match.
"I can only, we can only, the FA can only do so much. We've got to leave this to the people in charge to make a proper stance on it," he said.
"Just banning one or two people is not going to change anything, you've got to make [an example] – even if it was our fans, I'd be saying the same thing.
"It's 2019 now, I keep saying it. It's a shame to see this still going on. We can only bring awareness to the situation.
"It's now time for the people in charge to put a real stamp on it. You can fine someone, but what's that going to do?
"You've got to make it harder, you've got to punish the whole [group of] fans, [so] that [they] can't come to the ground."
Last December, Sterling was widely praised for drawing attention to unequal media coverage of white and black footballers in the UK, something he felt contributed to problems of racism.
Cagliari president Tommaso Giulini denied there was a racist element to the abuse directed towards Kean, claiming any jeers were merely a reaction to his goal celebration.
"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," he told Sky Sport Italia.
"But there's no need to be self-righteous about it and cast a shadow over the entire Cagliari fanbase or the club."