December 18 – Serie A has apologised in the wake of the furore over imagery of monkeys being used in artwork for their anti-racism campaign.
The league received heavy criticism from Italian clubs AC Milan and Roma as well as anti-discrimination organisations.
The ‘No To Racism’ paintings show three monkeys with painted faces and had been intended to “spread the values of integration, multiculturalism and brotherhood”.
It remains to be seen whether they will be put on permanent display at the entrance to the Serie A headquarters in Milan as originally stated.
“I express sincere apologies for the artwork that was presented yesterday, I realised it was inappropriate,” said the league’s chief executive Luigi De Siervo in a statement.
The issue came to a head fewer than three weeks after Serie A clubs pledged to combat Italian football’s “serious problem” of racism.
Anti-discriminatory body Fare said it was left “speechless” and the campaign looked like a “sick joke”, while Kick It Out added the use of monkeys was “completely inappropriate”.
De Siervo added: “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.
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 Belgium striker scored a penalty against their team, showed the game was “going backwards”.
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