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Anger as Lazio fans call to ban women from front rows of football stadium

Italy's football federation chief on Monday slammed as a "bad joke" the call by die-hard Lazio ultra fans to ban women to the back rows of the Olympic Stadium in Rome.

Anger as Lazio fans call to ban women from front rows of football stadium
No place for women? Lazio fans at the Olympic Stadium in Rome. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

A leaflet being attributed to Lazio ultras was circulated before the team's opening Serie A game – a 2-1 loss to Napoli – calling for women to be banned from the “sacred place” of the front rows in the Italian capital.

“It was the bad joke of the summer,” FIGC commissioner Roberto Fabbricini told Radio Anch'io Sport on Monday. “When we talk about a stadium that must go back to being a meeting point for families, ghettoizing a group of people seems very stupid to me.”

Italian media reported that those who distributed the leaflets had been identified using video footage by police, who have passed their findings on to prosecutors.

The leaflets were circulated on the north stand which Lazio fans occupy.

“The Curva Nord for us represents a sacred place. An environment with an unwritten code to be respected,” read the flyer signed “Direttivo Diabolik Pluto”.

“The first rows, as always, we experience them as if they were a trenched line. We do not admit women, wives or girlfriends, so, if this is the case, we invite you to position yourself from row 10 onwards.

“Those who choose the stadium as an alternative to the carefree and romantic day at Villa Borghese [one of the main parks in Rome], go to other areas.”

Lazio's ultras fans have often courted controversy and the club was fined €50,000 last year after supporters displayed stickers showing Holocaust victim Anne Frank in a Roma shirt along with anti-Semitic messages.

Bitter city rivals Lazio and Roma share the Olympic Stadium. 

READ ALSO: Nine arrested for corruption over new Rome stadium


Photo: Gabriel Bouys/AFP
 

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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