Italian football league Serie A sparks outrage after using monkey images as part of anti-racism poster campaign
Top Italian football league Serie A has sparked a storm by using images of monkeys in an anti-racism campaign.
The artwork, which is set to be displayed in the league's Milan headquarters, has been released after Italian clubs agreed to tackle the 'serious problem' of racism within the sport in their country.
But the offensive posters have only ramped up the backlash against Italian football's ability to deal with the issue as a number of major anti-discrimination bodies have slammed the initiative.
Kick It Out said: "Serie A's use of monkeys in their anti-racism campaign is completely inappropriate, undermines any positive intent and will be counter-productive.
"We hope that the league reviews and replaces their campaign graphics."
A number of racist incidents have occured in Italy already this season, most recently involving the newspaper Corriere dello Sport after they displayed the headline 'Black Friday' alongside images of black footballers Romelu Lukaku and Chris Smalling.
Following the release of the posters, fellow anti-racism organisation Fare added: "Once again Italian football leaves the world speechless. It is difficult to see what Serie A was thinking, who did they consult?
"In a country in which the authorities fail to deal with racism week after week, Serie A have launched a campaign that looks like a sick joke.
"These creations are an outrage; they will be counter-productive and continue the dehumanisation of people of African heritage. It is time for the progressive clubs in the league to make their voice heard."
Meanwhile, the artist behind the artwork, Simone Fugazzotto, defended his creation.
"I decided to portray monkeys to talk about racism because they are the metaphor for human beings," he said. "Last year I was at the stadium to see Inter v Napoli [a match in which Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly was racially abused] and I felt humiliated, everyone was shouting 'monkey' at Koulibaly, a player I respect.
"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, I made the western monkey with blue and white eyes, the Asian monkey with almond-shaped eyes and the black monkey positioned in the centre, where everything comes from.
"The monkey becomes the spark to teach everyone that there is no difference, there is no man or monkey, we are all alike. If anything we are all monkeys."
This comes just days after former England and Arsenal striker Eni Aluko spoke out about how she felt when going to play in Italy for Juventus.
In an interview with The Telegraph, the 32-year-old described the way she was treated when walking into shops.
She said people would say: 'What are you doing here? Why are you here?’
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"The minute I say 'I play for Juventus', the whole atmosphere changes. But if I didn’t play for Juventus, it wouldn’t.
"I found myself having conversations in broken Italian: ‘You cannot make me feel as if I’m about to rob the store just because of your fear and your ignorance'.
"Every time I landed at Turin airport in the last four weeks, I was being treated like Pablo Escobar. Sniffer dogs were being set upon me.”