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Anti-Semitism initiative marred by some Lazio and other fans

James Thorogood
October 26, 2017

Italian soccer league Serie A has responded to an ugly incident last weekend by publicly condemning anti-Semitism. Police have issued stadium bans to 13 Lazio fans for fly-posting insulting images of Anne Frank.

Italien Serie A- Lazio fans
Serie A fans listened to a passage from Anne Frank's diary before kick-off during midweek.Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/G. Benvenuti

Italian police on Friday issued stadium bans to 13 Lazio fans for spreading insulting images of Nazi Holocaust victim Anne Frank. 

Lazio fans had placed images of Anne Frank wearing a Roma jersey at their rivals' end of the Stadio Olimpico.

A passage from The Diary of Anne Frank diary was read out before each of Wednesday's Serie A fixtures in an effort aimed at tackling anti-Semitism in Italian football, However, while the moment of reflection was impeccably observed in the majority of stadiums, the current rising tensions overshadowed the action in some of them.   

Read more: Lazio takes fans to Auschwitz

The diary passage read: "I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness, I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too, I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquility will return once more."

Italien Lazios Vereinspräsident Claudio Lotito
Club president Claudio Lotito has been vocal in criticising the actions of a select group of Lazio fans.Image: picture-alliance/ROPI/Maule/Fotogramma

Lazio players on board

Lazio's players sent out a clear message to their fans by wearing white T-shirts adorned with a photo of Anne Frank and the message "no to anti-Semitism" before and during their warm-up on Wednesday. However, that did not prevent the Irriducibili ultras from marring the moment by singing fascist songs while the diary extract was being read, as well as during the minute's silence that followed.

Following the incident in Rome, Lazio President Claudio Lotito was quoted by Gazzetta dello Sport as referring to a small group of "fools who don't know what they've done". The message though, did little to deter the Irriducibili.

In the match itself, the Biancazzurri collected a 2-1 win over Bologna to remain level on points with reigning champions Juventus, who were one of two other clubs that will have to answer for their fans actions.

Other incidents

In Turin, a small section of ultras turned their backs on the pitch and began singing the Italian national anthem, while in Rome, where AS Roma played host to Crotone, the reading was drowned out by club chants.

Italian publication La Stampa commented that the actions were "anything but a homage to the victims of the Holocaust," while Gazzetta dello Sport ran with the headline of "new shame".

While, the efforts of the Italian football association to combat anti-Semitism may have been a step in the right direction, there is clearly stil plenty of work to be done, as the views – and actions of some of the fans remain in stark contrast to those their clubs.

James Thorogood Sports reporter and editor, host of Project FußballJMThorogood