An F for Serie A? Italian football league’s anti-racism campaign stirs controversy

Paintings by artist Simone Fuguzzotto commissioned by Serie A.

The Italian football league, Serie A has launched what some are calling a distasteful anti-racism campaign, which uses paintings of monkeys in three different colours showing that “we are all the same race”.

Renowned artist Simone Fuguzzotto, who is known for his depiction of apes, was commissioned by Serie A to produce the portraits. The paintings which were intended to represent “a Western monkey, an Asian monkey and a black monkey,” were in response to a series of racist incidents across the country in recent months.

Players such as Mario Balotelli, Romelu Lukaku and Kalidou Koulibaly have reportedly been victims of racism from fans this season. Fuguzzotto has said that the inspiration for the piece was an incident which occurred during a match between Napoli and Inter Milan.

Fuguzzotto told reporters, “Everyone was making the sound of monkeys at Koulibaly, a player I respect. So I made the western monkey white with blue eyes,- the Asian monkey with almond eyes and a black monkey in the middle, which is where everything comes from. This is what the evolutionary theory tells us.

“The monkey becomes the spark to teach everyone that there is no difference. It’s not that one is a man and one is a monkey. At this point, we are all monkeys, if they really feel the need to call a black [player] that.”

The portrait has attracted widespread criticism, including from the group Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE).

“In a country which the authorities fail to deal with racism week after week #SerisA have launched a campaign that looks like a sick joke (sic),” fare commented on social media.

Series A teams such as AC Milan and Roma have also condemned the campaign. AC Milan stated in a tweet, “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.”