Serie A, Italy’s top-flight soccer league released a new anti-racism campaign on Monday (Dec. 16) that featured three side-by-side paintings of apes, as reported by Reuters. The launch of the latest campaign is now being looked at as a distasteful joke.
Responding to the paintings, Serie A, claims that the artwork by the Italian-native artist Simone Fugazzotto would be permanently placed in its main hall “to underline the commitment of the world of football against all forms of discrimination.”
Born in Milan, Fugazzotto is known for his controversial works of art that involve illustrations of chimpanzees. The anti-racism campaign inspiration comes after Napoli’s Senegalese defender Kalidou Koulibaly was the target of racist insults during a match at Inter Milan.
“I got so angry that… I got an idea. Why not stop censoring the word monkey in football but turn the concept around and say instead that in the end, we’re all apes?” he said.
However, the paintings created a larger backlash outside of the country that made its way onto social media.
“These creations are an outrage, they will be counter-productive and continue the dehumanization of people of African heritage,” said anti-racism group Fare in a statement. “It is difficult to see what Serie A was thinking, who did they consult?”
“Once again Italian football leaves the world speechless. In a country in which the authorities fail to deal with racism week after week #SerieA have launched a campaign that looks like a sick joke.”
A viral tweet surfaced on Twitter giving a sneak peek to the new ‘No to Racism’ campaign.
Reuters reports that Italian football has been tormented by racism during their matches this season from racist insults at rival games to controversial “Black Friday” headlines alluding to the Black Italian players.