Serie A boss apologises for monkey posters: 'I realised it was inappropriate'

Italian league faced huge backlash over illustrations for anti-racism campaign

A view of the three paintings, part of a new campaign against racism launched by the Italian soccer league in Milan, Italy, Monday, Dec. 16, 2019. While black players are regularly subjected to monkey chants in games, artist Simone Fugazzotto said his painting featuring three monkeys to represent three different races was meant “to show that we are all the same race." The league used the painting at a presentation of its anti-racism campaign in Milan on Monday, stirring up controversy and criticism from both clubs and press. (ANSA via AP)
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Serie A chief executive Luigi De Siervo has apologised for the "inappropriate" artwork featuring monkeys to illustrate its anti-racism campaign, with a new concept set to be presented early next year.

The Italian league has been heavily criticised by the anti-discrimination networks and by its own clubs, with AC Milan the latest to voice their unhappiness.

The paintings had been intended to "spread the values of integration, multiculturalism and brotherhood" and were set to be on permanent display at the entrance to the Serie A headquarters in Milan.

But De Siervo accepted the campaign choice had not made the intended impact. "I express sincere apologies for the artwork that was presented yesterday, I realised it was inappropriate.

"What cannot be questioned is the strong and constant condemnation by Serie A against all forms of discrimination and racism, and we are committed to eradicate this from our beloved league.

"The league is working on its official anti-racism campaign, which cannot be identified with Simone Fugazzotto's work, and will be presented by the end of February."

The Rossoneri had earlier issued a strongly-worded club statement on the club's official Twitter account in regards to the paintings, which read: "Art can be powerful, but we strongly disagree with the use of monkeys as images in the fight against racism and were surprised by the total lack of consultation."

Italian football has been blighted by monkey chants and other incidents of racist abuse this season.

Fare said on Twitter: "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."

Roma also tweeted a statement expressing surprise at the league's approach.

"AS Roma was very surprised to see what appears to be an anti-racist campaign from Serie A featuring painted monkeys on social media today," read the tweet.

"We understand the league wants to tackle racism but we don't believe this is the right way to do it."

Two weeks ago Italian paper Corrierre dello Sport was criticised for using the headline 'Black Friday' on its front page alongside images of Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku and Roma's Chris Smalling.

The former Manchester United team-mates were due to go up against each other for their new clubs the following day.

Lukaku himself and Brescia forward Mario Balotelli are among those to make allegations of being racially abused by supporters during games this season.