Backlash as Serie A launches new anti-racism campaign featuring paintings of apes

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Italy’s Serie A launched a new anti-racism campaign on Monday by presenting artwork featuring three side-by-side paintings of apes.

The paintings by Italian artist Simone Fugazzotto are to be exhibited at the entrance to the Italian’ FA main hall “to underline the commitment of the world of football against all forms of discrimination.”

The artwork “aims to spread the values of integration, multiculturalism and brotherhood”.

According to the BBC report the installation created a back clash.

“Once again Italian football leaves the world speechless. It is difficult to see what Serie A was thinking, who did they consult?” said anti-discriminatory body Fare.

“In a country in which the authorities fail to deal with racism week after week, Serie A have launched a campaign that looks like a sick joke.

“These creations are an outrage; they will be counter-productive and continue the dehumanisation of people of African heritage.

“It is time for the progressive clubs in the league to make their voice heard.”

BBC reports that in November, Brescia’s Mario Balotelli called fans who shouted racist abuse at him “small-minded” and “imbeciles”.

Inter Milan’s Romelu Lukaku said the abuse he suffered in September, when Cagliari fans made monkey noises after the Belgian scored a penalty against their team, showed the game was “going backwards”. The Sardinian club were later cleared of racist chanting, leading the head of anti-discriminatory body Fare to say that Italian football authorities and their disciplinary systems to combat racism were “not fit for purpose”.

Earlier this month Italian newspaper Corriere dello Sport was criticised for the headline ‘Black Friday’ alongside images of Roma defender Chris Smalling and Inter striker Lukaku prior to a match between the sides.

At a news conference on Monday, artist Simone Fugazzotto, who always uses monkeys in his work, said: “For an artist there is nothing more important than trying to change the perception of things through his own work.

“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.

Via Reuters / BBC

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