ROME — Images of Anne Frank wearing a Roma jersey were among the anti-Semitic stickers and graffiti left by Lazio fans that were discovered at the Stadio Olimpico on Monday.
It was the latest in a long line of racist or anti-Semitic incidents involving Lazio supporters.
The northern curva (end) of the stadium where Lazio’s “ultra” fans sit was closed on Sunday for the match with Cagliari due to racist chanting during a match against Sassuolo this month.
As a result, Lazio decided to open the southern end and let the ultras in where Roma’s hard-core fans sit for their home matches.
Stadium cleaners found the anti-Semitic stickers a day later.
The Italian football federation is likely to open an investigation, which could result in a full stadium ban for Lazio.
“There are no justifications. These incidents must be met with disapproval, without any ifs, ands or buts,” Sports Minister Luca Lotti said. “I’m sure that the responsible authorities will shed light on what happened and that those responsible will quickly be identified and punished.”
Lazio’s ultras have long been known for their far right-wing political stances and fascist leanings. During a 1998 derby, Lazio ultras held up a banner directed at their Roma counterparts that read, “Auschwitz Is Your Country; the Ovens Are Your Homes.”
The latest partial stadium ban stemmed from derogatory chants directed at visiting Sassuolo players Claud Adjapong and Alfred Duncan.
“This is not a curva, this is not football, this is not sport. Keep the anti-Semites out of the stadiums,” tweeted Ruth Dureghello, the president of Rome’s Jewish community.
“Dureghello is right,” Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi added.
Lazio will also be without fans in the northern end when Udinese visits on Nov. 5, as it was also decided to apply a sanction that had been conditionally suspended for racist chanting during the Rome derby in April.
Also this season, Lazio beat Belgian side Zulte Waregem 2-0 in a Europa League match behind closed doors due to punishment from UEFA for racist chants aimed at a Sparta Prague player in the Roman side’s last continental appearance two seasons ago.
The club promoted an anti-racism initiative for the Cagliari game, saying it was up to other fans to educate the offending supporters until their “ignorance and lack of respect for the most elementary rules of coexistence disappear once and for all from our stadium.”
The racist and anti-Semitic incidents are obscuring a surprisingly positive season for Lazio on the pitch.
The Roman squad beat Cagliari 3-0 for its fourth straight win and is fourth in the standings, level on points with six-time defending champion Juventus, which it recently beat 2-1.
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