AC Milan and AS Roma, the two Italian football clubs, have criticised Serie A for the launch of its anti-racism drive which features paintings of monkeys.

“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,” AC Milan wrote on its official Twitter handle.

“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,” tweeted AS Roma.

“We understand the league wants to tackle racism but we don’t believe this is the right way to do it.”

Serie A, country’s domestic football league, has been facing criticism on social media after it chose to display artwork featuring three monkeys at its headquarters in Milan.

According to a report in goal.com, the artist who made the paintings — Simone Fugazzotto — stated his intention was to “turn the concept back on the racists”, highlighting that all humans evolved from apes. The league’s decision to install the paintings didn’t go down well as various footballers, who have been previously targeted with ‘monkey chants’ by racist fans took offence.

However, Serie A general manager Luigi De Siervo has stated the works are part of a three-pronged approached to battling intolerance in the game.

The artist himself went into great detail about the motivation behind his work, stating previously on Instagram: “This idea for this campaign comes from afar. It was December 26 and I was at the stadium to see Inter vs Napoli, an incredible game decided in the last minute by my brother Lautaro Martinez.

“I heard – and certainly not for the first time – insults and monkey noises aimed at great player, Kalidou Koulibaly. I got so angry but almost as a result I got an idea: why not stop censoring the word monkey in football and turn the concept around and say instead that in the end we are all apes?

“Because if we are human beings, monkeys, reincarnated souls, energy or aliens, who cares, the important thing is to hear a concept of equality and brotherhood.”