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Lazio Ultras' actions highlight enduring anti-Semitic and racist elements in Italian football

From time to time, football fans in Italy put themselves in the headlines for the wrong reasons. ...



Lazio Ultras' actions high...
Soccer

Lazio Ultras' actions highlight enduring anti-Semitic and racist elements in Italian football

From time to time, football fans in Italy put themselves in the headlines for the wrong reasons.

Last weekend saw an ugly side of the game rear its head and this time involved Lazio supporters. More specifically some of their ultras and in the form of anti-Semitism.

Lazio ultras left stickers around the Stadio Olimpico they share with city rivals AS Roma. The stickers depicted an image of Anne Frank, who was killed by the Nazis during the Holocaust, in a Roma jersey in an attempt to lash out at the Giallorossi in an anti-Semitic way. 

Lazio players wear t-shirts with an image of Anna Frank and reading in Italian "No to Anti-semitism" prior to the Serie A soccer match between Lazio and Bologna at the Renato Dall'Ara stadium in Bologna, Italy, Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017. (Giorgio Benvenuti/ANSA via AP)

The condemnation has been swift and as a response from football authorities for the midweek matches around Italy, passages from Anne Frank's diaries were read aloud before matches, although some Lazio fans sang Fascist songs and some Juventus fans turned their backs.

Last night, we were joined by Italy-based football writer Paddy Agnew of World Soccer to put the situation into context and give an insight into the Fascist sentiment and anti-Semitism which has blemished elements of Italian football.  

Lazio Ultras' actions highlight enduring anti-Semitic and racist elements in Italian football

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

"Italian football continues to have difficulty controlling its hard line fans, the so-called ultras," he said.

"If you asked me the question, 'what are the Italian football federation doing about problems like this?' My answer would be, 'very little in fact', because this problem's been around in Italian football for as long as I've been watching which is more than 30 years."  

He also explained that problems around racism are not restricted to elements of ultra and fans group, pointing out that the current federation president Carlo Tavecchio made remarks about African footballers during his election campaign.

"As racist statements go, it's pretty bad," Agnew said of those remarks, adding that Tavecchio was still elected despite making those comments.

And on Lazio, who are not alone in this regard historically both during and after the Mussolini era, and the controversies that sometimes surround the fanbase around these sorts of issues, Agnew continued: "The point about both Rome clubs, Roma and Lazio, they've both got very strong Fascist traditions."  

Listen to the full chat on the podcast player.

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