Accusations of rampant racism which have been swirling around Italian football in recent times show no sign of slowing after officials displayed a series of paintings featuring apes as the subject of their anti-racism campaign.
There have been several instances of racist abuse in Italian football in recent months, with players complaining of being subjected to monkey chants and various other racist behavior from the stands. Several players, including Mario Balotelli, Kalidou Koulibaly and Romelu Lukaku, have made known their objection to the pervasive nature of the abuse.
League officials, in an apparent show of solidarity with targets of the racist chanting, pledged support in the form of an anti-racism campaign – but their method of doing so has been seen as horrendously tone-deaf after a sequence of paintings by artist Simone Fugazzotto which are reportedly part of the campaign made their way to social media on Monday.
The three images feature a close-up of apes with the colors of various Italian football teams added, images which the artist says were designed to help “change people’s perceptions“.
“For an artist, there is nothing more important than trying to change people’s perceptions via their work,” Fugazzotto said.
“With this trio of paintings, I tried to show that we are all complex and fascinating creatures, who can be sad or happy, Catholic, Muslim or Buddhist, but at the end of the day, what decides who we are is not the colour of our skin.”
Quite predictably, the paintings have been met with a swath of criticism when they began circulating on social media.
The paintings, which are currently on display at the Serie A headquarters in Milan, were defended by Serie A general manager Luigi De Siervo, who said: “Simone’s paintings fully reflect the values of fair play and tolerance, so will remain in our headquarters.
“The Lega is taking a strong stand against any form of prejudice. We realise racism is an endemic problems and very complex, so we are facing it on three fronts – cultural, via works of art such as Simone’s paintings, sporting through a series of initiatives and players and clubs, and also repressive, thanks to the collaboration with the police.”
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