MILAN – Artist Simone Fugazzotto defended on Tuesday a widely criticised anti-racism campaign launched by Italy's Serie A soccer league which features his paintings of apes.
Racism has long plagued Italian soccer, with black players frequently targeted by insults at stadiums, and the media showing little sensitivity to the issue.
"I am proud of what I have done because maybe for the first time ... we can really confront this problem," Fugazzotto told Reuters.
Looking to tackle the problem of racism head on, Serie A has promoted a series of three paintings of chimpanzees by Fugazzotto beneath the slogan "No To Racism".
The initiative has drawn a firestorm of criticism on social media, and major Serie A teams distanced themselves from the campaign, but Fugazzotto said he had been looking to challenge prejudices.