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November 23, 2012 12:52 pm

Two Arrested for Anti-Semitic Stabbing Attack on Tottenham Fans in Rome, Reports of Racist Chants Later at Game

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Lazio fans in the Stadio Olimpico of Rome. Photo: Andrew.

Two men have been apprehended by police in Rome for their role in a soccer-related attack that had anti-Semitic undertones. Wednesday night, fans of the British club Tottenham Hotspur were attacked at a bar in Rome ahead of a match between their club and Lazio. One fan was critically wounded when an assailant knifed him. Witnesses said that not only did the assailants physically harm the Tottenham fans, but they also yelled “Jews” at them, an apparent reference to the fact that Tottenham has a large Jewish fan base, with some even referring to themselves as the “Yid Army.”

The BBC reported “witnesses heard the masked men shouting ‘Jews’ as they launched their attack. A senator here has said that what happened had racist, anti-Semitic connotations.

“And he’s called on the Interior Minister to report on the matter. The mayor of Rome has said that the possibility that anti-semitism played a part made the attack all the more serious. Meanwhile Israel’s ambassador to Italy has indicated he has no doubt that this was a racist attack.”

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Initial reports had it that the assailants were Lazio fans, known for their far-right, ultra-nationalism. Reports Friday, however, claim that the assailants were actually supporters of Rome’s other soccer team, AS Roma.

In the meantime Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas called on UEFA to investigate claims of anti-semitism among Lazio fans in the crowd during the game Thursday night.

The BBC reported an FA spokesman as saying:  “We were saddened and alarmed to see reports of violent incidents prior to the game as well as anti-Semitic chants.

“The FA had a crowd control adviser present at the fixture who will provide an urgent report which we will pass on to UEFA as a matter of priority.”

A joint statement released by Maccabi GB and the Community Security Trust said : “It is unacceptable for football fans to be confronted with antisemitism when attending a match, wherever this takes place, and we call on the Rome authorities and UEFA to take meaningful action to ensure that this does not happen again.”

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  • Ethan Coane

    The anti-semitic aspects of these behaviors(the bar attack and the game-time chants) don’t really shock or bother me. Soccer fandom is rife with violent thugs from many countries who’ve been known to level such behaviors at black players and teams as well. Racism/anti-semitism/jingoism is just part of the “costume” these thugs wear when they’re incited to their low-class hooliganism. Anything derogatory about their favorite team’s opponent will suffice. Let’s not get our Jewish “panties in a bunch”. At least I won’t. Thugs will be thugs.