Italian Soccer Officials Combat Racism Using…Racism

Italian Soccer Officials Combat Racism Using…Racism
Felipe Caicedo of Lazio celebrates his goal 1-2 with teammate during the Serie A match between Cagliari Calcio and SS Lazio at Sardegna Arena on December 16, 2019 in Cagliari, Italy. Image: (via Getty)

Italian soccer has a racism problem, one so pervasive and vile officials decided they needed to launch an anti-racism campaign to stop fans from screaming the word “monkey” and making monkey sounds at players of color (yes, this is really happening). Unfortunately, officials seem a little unclear on what actually constitutes racism, based on the signature art they picked for the campaign.

Which is, uh, this:

Yes, really, it’s this:

The New York Times reports that the above images comes courtesy of (white) artist Simone Fugazzotto, who decided to create these three monkeys—an oft-racist symbol—after hearing racist fans yell “monkey” at the Naples team’s Senegalese defender Kalidou Koulibaly.

Per the Times:

“I had such anger that I had an idea,” Fugazzotto wrote. “Why not stop censoring the word monkey in football, but turn the concept, and say instead that in the end we are all monkeys?”

I’m all for groups deciding to reclaim and reappropriate the prejudiced imagery and slurs that target them, if they so choose, but clearly, this isn’t it. The art is tone deaf at best, and has no place in anti-racism campaign. The pieces have been widely condemned, with anti-discrimination organization Fare going so far as to call them “an outrage” that will be “counter-productive and continue the dehumanisation of people of African heritage.”

Fugazzotto defended the pieces to CNN, noting he frequently uses monkeys in his work, and telling the network in an email, “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.” That’s nice and all, but I cannot imagine people who make monkey sounds at black soccer players do much thinking about an artist’s oeuvre, so.

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