Piero Fassino, an ardent supporter of Juventus and former foreign minister, initially denied making the rude gesture but was forced to make an admission after it was caught on video and posted online, Il Fatto Quotidiano reported.
Watch the video here:
Fassino said the gesture was directed at a group of “hooligans”, and not true Torino fans, in response to “intolerable intimidating behaviour.”
“A small group of hooligans decided to attack me and insult me and my family, even by throwing stones,” he was quoted in Il Fatto as saying.
“This is what provoked the instinctive, but human, reaction, which I regret. But intimidating behaviour is intolerable.”
The incident happened during a ceremony at Turin’s Filadelfia stadium to commemorate the Supergra disaster in which 31 people died after a plane crashed into Superga Hill on May 4th 1949.
Eighteen Torino players, club officials, journalists and the plane’s crew were lost after the plane crashed in a thunderstorm as it approached Turin.
Fassino’s reaction comes at a time of high tension in Italian football. On Saturday, three Napoli fans were shot ahead of the Italian Cup final in Rome after allegedly brawling with a fan from the hardline ‘Ultras’, an organized group which is responsible for much of the violence that blights football in Italy.