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Italian police probe anti-Semitic posters aimed at Lazio and Napoli fans

Italian police are investigating after AS Roma supporters allegedly distributed anti-Semitic leaflets in the north of the city on Wednesday to coincide with the anniversary of bitter city rivals Lazio.

Italian police probe anti-Semitic posters aimed at Lazio and Napoli fans
AS Roma playing Lazio in 2016. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

The leaflets, signed by a group of Roma ultras, were posted overnight in the area where Lazio supporters gathered to celebrate their 119th anniversary.

The text of the flyers read: “Lazio, Napoli and Israel, same colours, same flags. S**t.”

It comes just over a year after Lazio ultras posted anti-Semitic stickers depicting Holocaust victim Anne Frank in a Roma jersey in the Stadio Olimpico.

Rome mayor Virginia Raggi condemned the incident on Wednesday. “I firmly condemned the anti-Semitic posters which appeared in Rome,” she wrote on Twitter. “Football cannot be division and intolerance.”

Raggi also denounced earlier clashes with Lazio supporters that left at least ten police officers injured. “Unacceptable violence against police officers by ultras. Rome cannot become a theatre for the madness of some criminals.”

READ ALSO: Police injured as Lazio's 119th anniversary celebrations turn violent

The skirmishes took place at Piazza della Liberta where up to 2,500 Lazio fans gathered late on Tuesday at the spot of the club's foundation.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.

Tensions are running high in Italy after violence before Inter Milan's league game against Napoli on December 26th 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.

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

READ ALSO: Racism is still rife – and unpunished – in Italian football


Napoli's defender Kalidou Koulibaly, who was subjected to racist insults by Inter Milan fans before receiving a red card during a match on December 26th. Photo: Marco Bertorello/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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