Serie A chief executive Luigi De Siervo has apologized for the “inappropriate” artwork featuring monkeys to illustrate its anti-racism campaign, with a new concept set to be presented early next year.
The Italian league has been heavily criticized by the Fare anti-discrimination network and by its own clubs, with AC Milan the latest to voice their unhappiness.
The paintings had been intended to “spread the values of integration, multiculturalism and brotherhood” and were set to be on permanent display at the entrance to the Serie A headquarters in Milan.
On Tuesday, De Siervo accepted the campaign choice had not made the intended impact.
“I express sincere apologies for the artwork that was presented yesterday, I realised it was inappropriate,” De Siervo said in a statement from Serie A.
“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.
“The league is working on its official anti-racism campaign, which cannot be identified with Simone Fugazzotto’s work, and will be presented by the end of February.”
AC Milan had earlier issued a strongly-worded club statement on the club’s official Twitter account in regards to the paintings, which read: “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.”
Italian football has been blighted by monkey chants and other incidents of racist abuse this season.
Fare said on Twitter: “Once again Italian football leaves the world speechless.
“In a country in which the authorities fail to deal with racism week after week #SerieA have launched a campaign that looks like a sick joke.”
Roma also tweeted a statement expressing surprise at the league’s approach.
“AS Roma was very surprised to see what appears to be an anti-racist campaign from Serie A featuring painted monkeys on social media today,” read the tweet on Monday.
“We understand the league wants to tackle racism but we don’t believe this is the right way to do it.”
Two weeks ago, Italian paper Corriere dello Sport was criticised for using the headline ‘Black Friday’ on its front page alongside images of Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku and Roma’s Chris Smalling.