A passage from Anne Frank’s diary was read over the loudspeakers in Italian soccer stadiums and moments of silence were held before yesterday’s Serie A matches as a stand against recent incidents of anti-Semitism by Lazio FC supporters, but some fans turned their back and sang the Italian national anthem as protest.
Over the weekend, Lazio FC fans, who have a history of racist behavior, plastered their Stadio Olimpico home in Rome with stickers that showed Anne Frank wearing the jersey of their rival Roma, along with anti-Semitic graffiti. The league and Italian police launched an investigation and the club promised to take measures to fight anti-Semitism, which included players wearing warm-up shirts with Anne Frank’s image as well as taking 200 young Lazio fans to Auschwitz to educate them about the Holocaust.
The responses from across the league to the pre-match readings and moments of silence, though, were not encouraging.
According to the BBC:
Some Juventus fans turned their backs and sang the Italian national anthem during a minute’s silence to remember the Holocaust before the Serie A game against SPAL.
At most stadiums the minute’s silence turned into applause. But some fans at Roma-Crotone drowned out the reading with team chants.
The Washington Post reported:
For their part, Lazio’s ultras fan club has shown little remorse for the whole affair. It urged its supporters to refrain from attending Wednesday’s match and stood by the anti-Semitic stickers.
From the Los Angeles Times:
Before the Lazio-Bologna game on Wednesday, fans, including 500 Lazio supporters, listened to the passage in silence before applauding. However, a smaller group of “Ultra” Lazio fans who had gathered outside the stadium sang fascist songs and gave stiff-armed fascist salutes.
The Local reported:
“This is maybe a few lads joking around and taking the mickey,” the fan club said in a statement.
They pointed to a court ruling earlier this year that established, they said, that “it is not a crime to mock a rival fan by accusing him of belonging to another religion”.
They were referring to a judge’s decision in February not to convict two Lazio fans of racial hatred for using the phrase “red, yellow, Jewish” to taunt Roma fans, which the judge ruled was simply part of the “historical antagonism” between the two teams.