Serie A chief apologises for controversial anti-racism campaign

Serie A's new anti-racism campaign comes after a number of high-profile racial incidents this season, involving Mario Balotelli and Romelu Lukaku.

Milan and Roma have criticised the execution of Serie A's new anti-racism initiative.   -  Getty Images

Serie A chief executive Luigi De Siervo has issued an apology after an anti-racism campaign received widespread criticism for its use of monkey artwork.

Italy's top flight launched a campaign on Monday to combat what De Siervo described as "the evil" that "ruins" football, but the initiative was centred around a trio of paintings from Simone Fugazzotto, an artist renowned for using primates in his work.

The works were due to be displayed permanently at Serie A's headquarters in Milan, but those behind the campaign were accused of insensitivity given the continued incidents of black footballers being subjected to monkey chants as a form of racial abuse.

AC Milan and AS Roma criticised the execution of the initiative and claimed they were not consulted. And although De Siervo has now apologised, he also defended Serie A from those who accuse it of not doing enough to combat racism.

A statement from De Siervo read: "We want to apologise to all those who felt offended by the work carried out by Simone Fugazzotto last May, for the Coppa Italia final.

"Despite the artist's explanation that the idea of his creation was a message against racism, the work appeared to be questionable to many.

"What cannot be questioned is the strong and constant condemnation by Serie A against all forms of discrimination and racism, which we are committed to eradicating from our league.

"Serie A is working on an official anti-racism campaign, which cannot be identified with the work of Fugazzotto, and which will be presented by the end of February."

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