Is anyone going to do anything about racism in Italian football?
SS LAZIO have always been branded as racist or fascist. Not too long ago, Paulo Di Canio gave a straight-arm salute from the Lazio pitch and publicly defended himself by saying “I am a fascist, not a racist”. Of course, very little was done to remedy this.
Lazio were also the club of Benito Mussolini. “Il Duce” even built the ground the currently play in. And when Di Canio gave his shameful salute during the Rome derby of 2005, Mussolini’s daughter was in the crowd and chirruped; “What a delightful Roman salute!” after the game, adding: “I was deeply moved. I will write him a thank you note.”
Lazio’s Ultras have displayed banners, mocking Roma, that say “Team of Blacks, Crowd of Jews”.
So it isn’t surprising that Andre Villas-Boas’ Tottenham side are looking to UEFA to sort out the alleged monkey-chants aimed at players in last night’s Europa League match. It is reported that Jermain Defoe, Aaron Lennon and Andros Townsend were all subject to racist taunts from the visiting Lazio fans.
UEFA president Michel Platini was at the game, so is there any excuse for weak-wristed action or playing dumb from the European footballing governing body?
Even if UEFA acts, Lazio has much to remedy should it want to. Right wing parties like the old Alleanza Nazionale used Lazio’s stadium as a recruiting grounds and police are constantly seizing racist and anti-Semitic banners from fans (although, quite often missing numerous infamous 50-meter-long banners which have blighted Italian football).
In one match, Roma fans (traditionally more liberal that Lazio) were greeted with a banner that read, “Auschwitz is your town, the ovens your houses.” In recent years, Lazio’s Ultras have been tied by Italian police to acts of domestic terrorism, with one planted a bomb at a museum dedicated to Italy’s World War II resistance. Lazio fans have also been accused of desecrating Jewish cemeteries.
However, with UEFA’s record of being feeble in the face of fining teams for racist behaviour, it is likely that this latest incident will go largely unpunished.
What do you think should be done against teams who consistently use racist or anti-Semitic chants?
Photo: Lazio’s Paolo Di Canio gives a straight-arm salute to supporters, at the end of the Serie A top league soccer match between Lazio and AS Roma at Rome’s Olympic stadium, in this Thursday, Jan. 6, 2005