Serie A derided for monkeys painting in anti-racism campaign

ROME (AP) — AC Milan said it was “surprised by the total lack of consultation” after Serie A installed a painting featuring monkeys at its headquarters for a league-wide anti-racism campaign.

Roma also said it “was very surprised” by the move.

“We understand the league wants to tackle racism but we don’t believe this is the right way to do it,” Roma tweeted.

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 revealed the painting on Monday at a presentation of its anti-racism campaign in Milan.

“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,” Milan tweeted on Tuesday.

Racism has been a problem all season with offensive chants aimed at Romelu Lukaku, Franck Kessie, Dalbert Henrique, Miralem Pjanic, Ronaldo Vieira, Kalidou Koulibaly and Mario Balotelli. All of the players targeted — except for Pjanic, who is Bosnian — are black, and many of the incidents have gone unpunished.

“True art is provocation,” the league said in a statement to The Associated Press late Monday. “The idea behind Fugazzotto’s artwork is that whoever shouts racist chants regresses to his primitive status of being a monkey.

“Serie A decided that every year it will have a different artist interpret the damage caused by racism,” the league added. “Simone Fugazzotto, a witness to the whistles at Koulibaly at the San Siro, made a provocative work in which the monkeys are actually the racist fans.”

Fare, soccer’s leading discrimination monitoring group, called the use of the painting “a sick joke” and “an outrage,” adding it “will be counter-productive and continue the dehumanisation of people of African heritage. … It is difficult to see what Serie A was thinking, who did they consult? It is time for the progressive clubs in the league to make their voice heard.”