STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Italian soccer anti-racism monkey artwork condemned as 'outrage'

An Italian football anti-racism initiative featuring paintings of monkeys has received widespread criticism after its release. The sport in Italy has been blighted by racist abuse this season, and the artwork commissioned by Serie A was designed to stop fans directing monkey chants at players.

Posted: Dec 18, 2019 7:40 AM
Updated: Dec 18, 2019 7:40 AM

An Italian football anti-racism initiative featuring paintings of monkeys has received widespread criticism after its release Monday.

The sport in Italy has been blighted by racist abuse this season, and the artwork commissioned by Serie A was designed to stop fans directing monkey chants at players.

Artist Simone Fugazzotto came up with the idea for the Coppa Italia final between Lazio and Atalanta in May -- and it's part of an official anti-racism initiative that was officially unveiled on Monday.

Fugazzotto said his triptych of monkeys was intended to show that there's no difference between humans and apes, an idea that he decided to use after watching a match between Inter Milan and Napoli.

"Everyone was making the sound of monkeys at Koulibaly, a player I respect," Fugazzotto told the Serie A website, referring to Napoli's Senegalese international Kalidou Koulibaly.

"I've always been painting monkeys for five to six years, so I thought I'd make this work to teach that we're all apes.

"So I made the western monkey -- white with blue eyes -- the Asian monkey -- with almond eyes -- and the black monkey in the middle, which is where everything comes from, this is what the evolutionary theory tells us," Fugazzotto told reporters.

"The monkey becomes the spark to teach everyone that there is no difference. It's not that one is man and one is monkey. At this point, we are all monkeys ... if they really feel the need to tell a black (player) that he is one."

READ: Racist and homophobic incidents tarnish 'best league in the world'

'Dehumanisation'

Reaction to the artwork has been overwhelmingly negative.

"These creations are an outrage, they wil be counter-productive and continue the dehumanisation of people of African heritage," said anti-discrimination organization Fare on its Twitter feed.

"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."

Former England international Stan Collymore tweeted: Fantastic to see Serie A anti racism campaign posters ( yes, it's really real).

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

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

In an email sent to CNN, Fugazzotto said he had been left "completely shocked" by the reaction, and questioned why when he had presented the artwork in May it "didn't even give rise to a word."

The artist added: "To understand this work, you need to enter into my world and see the monkey as the protagonist of my artwork over years, and as a metaphor of the human being.

"Over the years, I painted almost every virtue, weakness and madness of the human being through the form of the chimpanzee, which allows me to express the soul of the human being though the looks but ridiculing the habits, the tics and the unhealthy habits."

Serie A did not immediately responded to CNN's request for comment regarding the negative reception on social media.

On the Serie A website, the league's managing director general manager Luigi De Siervo said Italian football's top flight division was adopting a three-pronged approach to combat racism.

All 20 Serie A clubs had signed a charter of principles against racism, stadium security would be improved -- notably by using facial recognition software to identify racist fans -- and the cultural initiative that Fugazzotto was part of.

'Tone deaf'

Earlier this month Italian newspaper Corriere dello Sport was widely criticized for previewing a soccer game with the headline "Black Friday."

READ: 'Black Friday': Italian newspaper sparks race row with front page

The banner was accompanied by photographs of former Manchester United teammates Chris Smalling and Romelu Lukaku, who play for AS Roma and Inter Milan respectively.

"Tone deaf, ignorant and with the usual racial undertones. Saying I'm shocked would be a lie at this point," tweeted football journalist Matteo Bonetti.

Earlier this season, Lukaku was the subject of monkey chants from Cagliari fans and Brescia striker Mario Balotelli said he had experienced racial abuse by opposition Verona fans.

Both incidents were met with meager penalties -- Verona was handed a one-match partial stadium closure and Cagliari escaped any serious punishment.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 31257

Reported Deaths: 1114
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds253640
DeSoto162016
Madison131434
Jones112849
Neshoba99271
Rankin95112
Harrison93311
Lauderdale91079
Forrest87842
Scott77315
Jackson63816
Copiah60715
Washington5919
Leake57819
Holmes55741
Lee55219
Wayne54513
Oktibbeha54126
Warren51618
Yazoo5136
Lowndes49413
Leflore49151
Grenada4905
Lincoln46634
Lamar4657
Pike44112
Monroe40330
Sunflower4008
Lafayette3934
Attala36123
Covington3595
Panola3526
Bolivar34014
Newton3399
Simpson3233
Adams31318
Pontotoc2926
Tate28810
Marion28411
Chickasaw27918
Claiborne27910
Noxubee2678
Winston2666
Jasper2636
Pearl River25732
Clay25111
Marshall2343
Smith21811
Union2109
Clarke20724
Walthall2045
Coahoma2016
Kemper17914
Lawrence1782
Yalobusha1737
Carroll16611
Humphreys1509
Tallahatchie1374
Itawamba1368
Montgomery1352
Calhoun1324
Tippah13111
Hancock13013
Webster12710
Jefferson Davis1124
Jefferson1083
Prentiss1083
Greene1058
Tunica1053
Wilkinson949
Amite912
George893
Tishomingo831
Quitman780
Choctaw744
Alcorn712
Perry674
Stone651
Franklin452
Benton380
Sharkey380
Issaquena91
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 44375

Reported Deaths: 984
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson5410152
Montgomery4158103
Mobile4129134
Tuscaloosa232142
Marshall172410
Madison14917
Lee141137
Shelby133423
Morgan11215
Walker97824
Elmore94314
Franklin89814
Baldwin8949
Dallas8919
Etowah75013
DeKalb7375
Chambers64227
Butler63428
Autauga61012
Tallapoosa60569
Russell5650
Houston5074
Unassigned50323
Limestone5010
Lauderdale4966
Lowndes47221
Cullman4594
Pike4375
Colbert4086
St. Clair4022
Escambia3966
Coffee3812
Calhoun3765
Covington3707
Bullock36910
Barbour3532
Talladega3177
Hale31421
Marengo31211
Dale2990
Wilcox2948
Sumter28512
Jackson2842
Clarke2776
Winston2633
Chilton2522
Blount2431
Monroe2392
Pickens2366
Marion23313
Conecuh2107
Randolph2099
Macon1999
Choctaw19512
Bibb1941
Greene1868
Perry1791
Henry1363
Crenshaw1253
Washington1117
Lawrence1100
Cherokee1027
Geneva830
Lamar781
Fayette711
Clay692
Coosa591
Cleburne381
Out of AL00
Tupelo
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 74°
Feels Like: 86°
Columbus
Few Clouds
76° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 76°
Oxford
Few Clouds
79° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 82°
Starkville
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 72°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather