ITALY’S SERIE A has come under fire for its choice of imagery in a “No to Racism” campaign.
The campaign has been billed as a positive response to the accusations of insensitivity and racism within Italian football but anti-racism campaigners have slammed the images for “dehumanising people of African heritage”.
AC Milan has spoken out against the campaign in a statement: “Art can be powerful, but we strongly disagree with the use of monkeys as images in the fight against racism.”
The club added that it was “surprised by the total lack of consultation” over the artwork.
AS Roma echoed these sentiments: “We understand the league wants to tackle racism but we don’t believe this is the right way to do it.”
Many have taken to social media to express their dismay. Football Against Racism Europe (FARE) called the artwork a “sick joke” and an “outrage” on Twitter.
These creations are an outrage, they will be counter-productive and continue the dehumanisation of people of African heritage.
During a conference on Monday (December 16), artist Simone Fugazzotto came to the defence of his artwork.
“I decided to portray monkeys to talk about racism because they are the metaphor for human beings. Last year I was at the stadium to see Inter v Napoli [a match in which Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly was racially abused] and I felt humiliated, everyone was shouting ‘monkey’ at Koulibaly, a player I respect,” the BBC reported Fugazzotto said.
He continued: “I’ve always been painting monkeys for five to six years, so I thought I’d make this work to teach that we’re all apes. I made the western monkey with blue and white eyes, the Asian monkey with almond-shaped eyes and the black monkey positioned in the centre, where everything comes from.
“The monkey becomes the spark to teach everyone that there is no difference, there is no man or monkey, we are all alike. If anything we are all monkeys.”
Serie A’s chief executive, Luigi de Siervo, has remained supportive of the artwork despite the backlash.
He said: “Football is an extraordinary tool for conveying positive messages, fair play and tolerance.” He added that the paintings “fully reflect these values” and would remain on show.