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LAZIO HAS LONG BEEN DOGGED BY ANTI-SEMITISM. PHOTO

FOOTBALL

Police identify Lazio fans behind Anne Frank stickers

Italian police have identified 15 people they believe stuck anti-Semitic images of Anne Frank in a Roma jersey to the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.

Police identify Lazio fans behind Anne Frank stickers

Three of those identified in surveillance camera footage are minors, including one 13 year old, Ansa news agency reported.

Some of the suspects are known to belong the Irriducibili club of hard-core Lazio supporters, who dominated the section where the stickers were found after Lazio’s match again Cagliari on Sunday.

They could face criminal charges for instigation to racial hatred, which carries a sentence of up to four years in prison.

Extracts from Anne Frank’s diary were read before Serie A matches across Italy on Tuesday night in response to the incident, which has turned a spotlight on Italian football’s long history of racism.

Lazio has announced plans to organize educational visits to Auschwitz for young fans, while its players will wear T-shirts bearing images of Anne Frank during their pre-match warm-up on Wednesday night.

Lazio’s ultras have already announced that they will not attend Wednesday’s match in Bologna, saying that they do not want to be part of the “media theatre”.

They urged fellow Lazio fans not to let themselves be “exploited” by those who wanted to harm the club.

The Irriducibili have shown little remorse for an incident that drew condemnation from the highest levels of the Italian government.

“This is maybe a few lads joking around and taking the mickey,” the fan club said in a statement.  

They pointed to a court ruling earlier this year that established, they said, that “it is not a crime to mock a rival fan by accusing him of belonging to another religion”.

They were referring to a judge’s decision in February not to convict two Lazio fans of racial hatred for using the phrase “red, yellow, Jewish” to taunt Roma fans, which the judge ruled was simply part of the “historical antagonism” between the two teams.

FOOTBALL

Euro 2020: Concern about virus spread after Italy players’ ‘unauthorised’ victory parade through Rome

Italy’s national football team reportedly insisted on taking an open-top bus tour through Rome to show off their European Championship trophy to crowds of fans - despite city authorities forbidding it amid concern about the spread of coronavirus.

Euro 2020: Concern about virus spread after Italy players' ‘unauthorised’ victory parade through Rome
Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

The team’s bus parade through the city on Monday night following their Euro 2020 triumph “was not authorised”, according to Matteo Piantedosi the head of Rome’s prefettura (the public safety authority).

Thousands of fans packed the streets of central Rome to see the team celebrate their cup win after beating England on penalties in the final.

READ ALSO: ‘Football came home’: Italy celebrates Euro 2020 victory over England

Piantedosi told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera on Wednesday: “We had denied permission to celebrate Italy’s victory in the European Championships on the open bus, but the pact was not respected.”

Piantedosi, who is Rome’s top public security official, said police had “no choice” but to let the parade go ahead after players Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci insisted on it.

Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

A meeting had been held on Friday with the Italian football federation (FIGC) to discuss plans for the celebrations if Italy won, said Piantedosi.

“I had agreed the line with Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese and Chief of Police Lamberto Giannini,” he said.

“It was clearly explained that [the parade] was not possible. We said we could not authorize it.”

Piantedosi said the Italian football federation (FIGC) initially agreed to hold a “controlled” ceremony in Rome’s central Piazza del Popolo instead of the parade.

After players insisted on the bus tour on Monday however, Piantedosi said, authorities reluctantly let them go ahead due to fears of sparking public disorder.

“At that point we had no choice but to acknowledge the situation and handle it in the best way we could,” he said.

READ ALSO: Covid cases on the rise in Europe once again as WHO warns of Euro 2020 risk

Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

In a statement on Wednesday, the FIGC said it had acted responsibly but decided not to disappoint fans who had come to celebrate with the team.

Footage of large crowds thronging the bus carrying the ‘Azzurri’ and the European Championship trophy through the capital however fuelled concerns about new outbreaks of coronavirus, after Italy’s infection rate began to rise again last week.

The World Health Organization warned earlier this month that crowds and gatherings connected to football matches will fuel a new rise in cases across Europe this summer.

READ ALSO: Delta variant in Italy will be ‘prevalent within 10 days’: health official

Italy’s health minister Roberto Speranza also voiced concerns on Monday about the consequences of people gathering to watch sporting events.

He said the European football championship win was “a great joy after terrible months,” but “even in these moments of national pride we can’t forget that our ‘game’ to defeat Covid is not yet won.”

There are currently minimal health restrictions in place across Italy, however masks are supposed to be worn in crowded public places, including outdoors.

“Footage shows that police were virtually the only ones [in the crowd] wearing masks,” said Piantedosi.

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