Artist at center of Italian anti-racism row defends ape pictures

Artist at center of Italian anti-racism row defends ape pictures

Artist at center of Italian anti-racism row defends ape pictures

The justification from the league is that "the Triptych, composed of three side-by-side paintings depicting monkeys, aims to spread the values of integration, multiculturalism and brotherhood".

The head of Serie A on Tuesday apologised for utilizing art featuring monkeys in an anti-racism advertising campaign.

The league also nominated one player from each of the 20 clubs to join an anti-racism team.

Inter also criticized the artwork, tweeting: "There is no excuse for racism, just as there is no room for racism in football".

Former Everton defender Sylvian Distin was particularly critical as he claimed it was hard to understand how racism was "being fought with something that looks like racism".

Marco Antonsich said he was not surprised at the response.

Lukaku himself and Brescia forward Mario Balotelli are among those to make allegations of being racially abused by supporters during games this season. Fugazzotto's massive artistic misfire only reiterates the point that the world has a lot to learn when it comes to diffusing and combatting racism and that the last thing any ally should do is play directly into the hands of bigots.

The league's decision to permanently install the paintings in their main base of operations has not been hugely well received, however, with players such as Romelu Lukaku and Kalidou Koulibaly having previously been targeted with monkey chants from racist fans.

Football in Italy has suffered from regular racist incidents at matches with the punishments handed out seen to be relatively weak.

Racism in football in Europe has become a major issue and it has been particularly bad in Italy with matches in its elite league, Serie A, being blighted by racist chants and signs and the sporting body admitted it was a "serious problem".

And Fugazzotto says a specific incident involving the latter during a match between Napoli and Inter Milan was the inspiration behind the works.

"I can't stop you from yelling monkey at the stadium?" A bit like Dani Alves made fun of those who threw bananas from the stands, I take it, I eat it and show a tone of a different kind.

However, Fugazzotto insists the work - comprising close-ups of three apes described as being western, Asian and black, with different coloured markings around the eyes - is created to highlight the stupidity of prejudice based on skin colour.

On Monday, reaction to the artwork was overwhelmingly negative.

Football Against Racism Europe (FARE) called the artwork a "sick joke" and an "outrage" on Twitter. Serie A decides to tackle racism by using monkey painting.

'Maybe get the mascots to Black up as a finishing touch'.

Players" agent Jen Mendelewitsch tweeted: "Serie A "No to Racism' campaign. Please tell me this is a joke".

Euronews has reached out to Serie A for further comment.

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

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