A video taken at the stadium of Rome’s Lazio soccer team showing fans making fascist salutes has been condemned by a leading Italian Jewish group that is calling on the club to take action.
The video, which is circulating on social media, shows a bird handler, dressed in the team colors of blue and white, who is carrying an eagle – the team’s mascot – standing in front of Lazio fans in the stadium raising his arm in a fascist salute. It was filmed on Saturday after Lazio’s 3-1 win against Inter-Milan, Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport reported.
The fans respond with fascist salutes in return and a chant of “Duce, Duce, Duce,” referring to Italy’s wartime fascist dictator Benito Mussolini’s nickname.
The Union of Jewish Communities in Italy (UCEI) called on Lazio and the Italian Football Federation to quickly deal with the incident.
“Faced with the ostentation of gestures and symbols that evoke fascist ideals, there can be no ambiguity and hesitation,” UCEI president Noemi Di Segni told AFP.
Di Segni worried that if the “soccer world did not free itself from carriers of hatred,” the behavior would “spread to the squares.”
Lazio said in a statement on its website that the eagle handler in the video was an employee of an outside company. They said that the company suspended him from work and “existing contracts” may be “terminated.”
This is not the first incidence of fans of the team, which has a long association with the far right, making fascist salutes.
In April 2019, Lazio refused to denounce racist chanting during the team's win against Milan, with the team releasing a statement distancing themselves from the fans in question, but not condemning the chanting. During that match, fans also made fascist salutes and hung a pro-Mussolini banner.