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FOOTBALL

Lazio players don Anne Frank shirts, fans sing ‘I don’t care’

Lazio donned shirts bearing a picture of Anne Frank on Wednesday night, while strains of a Fascist song were heard from the stands.

Lazio players don Anne Frank shirts, fans sing 'I don't care'
Lazio midfielder Ciro Immobile (L) and teammates wear T-shirts against anti-Semitism. Photo: Gianni Schicchi/AFP

Isolated supporters sang the Fascist song “Me ne frego” (“I Don't Care”) in the stands of the Dall'Ara Stadium in Bologna.

The team's ultra Irriducibili fans boycotted the match, saying they didn't want to be part of the “media theatre” triggered when Lazio fans posted stickers showing Anne Frank wearing the colours of their arch rivals, Roma.

The act, for which at least 15 Lazio fans – including three minors – have been identified as responsible, prompted the Italian football federation to order all teams to take a stand against anti-Semitism.

On all pitches, captains and referees handed out copies of Italian-Jewish writer Primo Levi's memoir of deportation, If This Is A Man.

Roma's Radja Nainggolan shows mascots a copy of Prime Levi's memoir. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

Extracts were read from The Diary of Anne Frank before a minute of reflection on the Holocaust, which quickly turned into a minute of applause in most stadiums. 

But in Turin, where champions Juventus were playing SPAL, a section of the crowd turned their backs on the pitch and sang the Italian national anthem, while at Rome, where AS Roma met Crotone, some fans drowned out the reading with chants in favour of their team.

Lazio president Claudio Lotito has been on damage control since the incident became public on Monday, visiting the Rome synagogue and announcing plans to take fans to visit Auschwitz

Juventus and SPAL stand for a reading from Anne Frank's diary. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

But a telephone recording made public on Wednesday cast doubt on his real intentions.

Il Messaggero published a recording in which Lotito appeared to describe the visit to the synagogue as “theatrics we have to do”.

“There's a vice-Rabbi? There is just the Rabbi? They are worthless. You see where we are? The Rabbi and vice-Rabbi in New York… Come on, let's do this theatrics,” a voice is heard saying.

Lotito said he would sue anyone who claimed that he had ever uttered such words and Democratic Party politician Dario Ginefra, seated beside Lotito on a Monday night flight from Milan to Rome where he was alleged to have made the call, backed the Lazio president.

Photo: Gianni Schicchi/AFP

Meanwhile the Lazio president insisted it “would be wrong” to punish the club for “the behaviour of 15 idiots”.

Lazio had already been given a two-match closure of the north end of the Stadio Olimpico for racist chanting.

“It would be wrong for the team to be docked points as we'd become hostage to these people going to the stadium just to create chaos,” Lotito told Radio Capital.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella has asked Interior Minister Marco Minniti to ensure that those responsible will be identified and “permanently banned from stadiums”.

In Wednesday night's Serie A matches, Napoli reclaimed the top spot with a 3-2 win against Genoa. Juventus remain third a point behind Inter after a 4-1 win over SPAL in Turin, while Lazio shrugged off the controversy to remain joint third with the champions after a 2-1 win at Bologna.

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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