Lazio ultras have sparked fresh outrage after expressing their desire to have their "sacred space" of the first few rows in the north stand be a women-free zone. The club has spoken out against the statement.
The hard-core Lazio fans do not want any women present in the first few rows of the Stadio Olimpico's north stand. Flyers signed "Direttivo Diabolik Pluto," were distributed by the die-hard supporters ahead of their team's Serie A season opener at home to Napoli, which ended in a 2-1 defeat for the hosts.
"The Curva Nord represents for us a sacred space, an environment with an unwritten code to be respected," the statement on the flyers read.
"The first few rows, as always, have been experienced like the trenches. In the trenches, we do not allow women, wives and girlfriends, so we invite them to position themselves from the 10th row back. Those who choose the stadium as an alternative to a carefree and romantic day in (Rome's) Villa Borghese (gardens), should go to other sections."
Lazio spokesman Arturo Diaconale told Italian news agency Ansa on Sunday that "it is not the position of the club, we are against any discrimination."
He added: "Moreover, there is an enormous number of Lazio fans, this instead is an initiative from a few fans. We can't always intervene to avoid politically incorrect displays like this."
Some Lazio fans shrouded the club in controversy last season when they littered the Stadio Olimpico with images of Anne Frank - the young diarist who died in the Holocaust - wearing a jersey of city rival Roma. Lazio was fined €50,000 (then $63,000) by the Italian soccer federation as a result.
It was the latest in a series of racist and anti-Semitic incidents, with Lazio previously having its stadium fully or partly closed for European and domestic matches as punishment.
jt/pfd (AP, dpa)