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Police injured as Lazio’s 119th anniversary celebrations turn violent

Eight police officers were injured after celebrations to mark Lazio's 119th anniversary in the centre of Rome turned violent.

Police injured as Lazio's 119th anniversary celebrations turn violent
File Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

The skirmishes took place at Piazza della Liberta in the centre of the Italian capital where up to 2,500 Lazio fans gathered late Tuesday at the site of the club's foundation, police told Italian media today.

The gathering had also been attended by the club's president Claudio Lotito who addressed the crowd but left before tensions mounted.

Shortly after midnight, an estimated 300 fans, with their faces covered, broke away from the main group and began throwing bottles and other objects at police, who responded with tear gas and water cannons.

Police said eight officers had injuries, mostly with cuts and bruising.

One fan was arrested and three others detained, all with links to the club's notorious 'Ultra' fans.

All will receive DASPO Urbano exclusion orders, a 'Sports Event Access Ban'.

Tensions are running high in Italian football after violent clashes before Inter Milan's league game against Napoli on December 26 in the San Siro, which was also overshadowed by racist chanting. A 39-year-old Inter Milan fan was killed after being struck by a car before the match.

There were also clashes in Rome before Lazio's Europa League game against German club Eintracht Frankfurt last month.

Lazio were founded at Piazza della Liberta on January 9th, 1900, by a group of army officers. 

In 2017, The Local reported on the scandal of Lazio fans abusing the memory of Anne Frank.

The Lazio 'ultras' have previously been in hot water over anti-Semitic gestures, Celtic crosses, monkey chants and fascist salutes, leading to them often being seen as a far-right club.  

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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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