Paddy Agnew’s Notes From Italy: Bonucci Family Photo Causes Controversy

You might think that in these times of Coronavirus, with everybody or almost everybody locked down at home, well known footballers can be grateful for a moment lived well out of the public eye. Not necessarily so. Ask Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci, for example…

People might be living and working at home but, of course, much of this is constantly posted on social media… and there was the rub for Bonucci, or rather for his wife Martina. On her Instagram account, she posted a “family” photo taken the other day, featuring eight family members grouped around a table to celebrate her father’s birthday.

There was the cake, the candles, a present from the grandchildren to granddad and eight family members all gathered around the table (The Bonuccis and their three children plus Martina’s parents and her brother).

In normal times, this would be the most banal of banal photos. Not so, however, in the time of Coronavirus. Immediately, Mr and Mrs Bonucci found themselves at the centre of polemics with critics arguing that they had failed to observe the most basic of “lockdown” rules and regulations. People heading into their seventh week of Italian lockdown were less than diplomatic in their criticism, making comments such as:

“But, do you lot all live together or do you not give a dam about the ban on non-essential movement and gatherings?”


“It is well for you rich who can all meet up…my grandmother lives just 200 metres from me and I haven’t seen her since the beginning of March.”


“Stay at home means everyone in their own home not in their own block…you like to make it up as you go along.”

In vain, Martina Bonucci explained that she had been out of her house just once since March 7th given that she has all her food delivered, including the birthday cake which takes pride of place in the “incriminating” photo. Furthermore, her parents and brother live on another floor of the same apartment building, adding that both parents, both in their sixties, have also not left the condominium since March 7th. So what, basically, is your gripe?

Yet, given that Martina has more than 200,000 followers on her Instagram account, it was inevitable that people would notice and criticise a post which seems to flaunt non-adherence to lockdown rules. Obviously, given the densely populated, apartment block living that is typical of all Italian cities, the Bonucci family is just one of hundreds of thousands who have members of their extended family living in the same apartment block.

In reality, even though the vast majority of Italians have observed basic lockdown rules and regulations faithfully, there have also been plenty of inappropriate “family occasions”, up and down the peninsula for the last month. The difference is, of course, that this one involved a very famous (and wealthy) footballer.

It was one of Martina’s followers, presumably a Juventus fan, who pointed out the realpolitik of the situation when he wrote:

“It would probably have been smarter to avoid posting this photo of a family gathering, it was obvious that it would cause a huge row”.

Indeed. Mrs Bonucci will probably think twice before she posts her next, seemingly innocent family photo.

Sticking with Juventus, worth pointing out that there is plenty of media speculation to suggest that the Italian champions may be considering the replacement of one Argentine striker, Gonzalo Higuain, with another one, Mauro Icardi, currently at Paris St. Germain. Higuain has seen out the Covid pandemic in his native land and, with his mother in poor health, he is apparently unsure about a return to Europe.

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In contrast, Icardi has seen out the pandemic at Lake Como in Italy, leading to speculation that the former Inter striker might be happy to return to Serie A. Stranger things have happened. Last summer, Juventus did not seem much interested in holding on to Higuain whilst ever since he started fighting with Inter at Christmas 2019 prior to leaving the club last summer, Icardi has been linked with a possible move to the champions. Vediamo, as they say around here.

Another issue to wait and see, one which again involves Inter, concerns yet another Argentine striker, namely Inter’s Lautaro Martinez. Barcelona, no less, have put their eye on Martinez.

In fairness, Barcelona put their eye on lots of world talents, including such as Brazilian Neymar, the star they sold to PSG in a world record $261 million dollar deal in August 2017. Martinez however is reportedly “sponsored” by an important figure in the Barcelona dressing room, a certain Leo Messi, yet another Argentine. Asked last week who he would choose between Neymar and Martinez, club coach, Quique Setien gave an intriguing answer, saying:

“They are both terrific players, the sort of player that every coach would want in his squad.   However, the Brazilian costs a lot, it won’t be easy to buy him.”

In the time of Coronavirus, it would seem that Martinez, for one, can keep on dreaming.

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