Top Rome Soccer Club Lazio Bans Fans Over Fascist Salutes, ‘Hitlerson’ Jersey
by Ben Cohen
Top Italian soccer club Lazio announced on Thursday that it had imposed lifetime bans on three supporters who proffered fascist salutes and sang antisemitic chants during last Sunday’s 1-0 victory over city rivals Roma.
According to the police in Rome, one of the excluded fans is a German national who has previously been involved with Lazio’s far right “Ultras.” The individual was captured on CCTV wearing a jersey embossed with the name “Hitlerson” and the number “88” — code in neo-Nazi circles for the slogan “Heil Hitler.”
The other two fans subjected to the ban were observed making fascist salutes.
“In the course of Sunday’s match, Lazio v Roma, and in the days immediately following, three people were identified who were the protagonists of behavior that had nothing to do with supporting [the team] and which manifested in forms of discrimination and antisemitism,” Lazio said in an official statement.
The statement confirmed that the three would be banned from life from Lazio’s Stadio Olimpico and that the club would seek damages through legal proceedings against them.
“Thanks to the collaboration between Società Sportiva Lazio, its own security service, stewards and the police, also through the use of the surveillance cameras at the Stadio Olimpico, it was possible to quickly identify a person wearing the shirt with the number 88 bearing the inscription ‘Hitlerson’ and two others who ostentatiously made the gesture of the Roman [fascist] salute,” the club added.
Lazio, whose stadium was built by wartime fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, has long courted controversy because of the antics of its fans.
In Oct. 2017, Lazio’s 3-1 victory over Inter Milan in Italy’s elite Serie A competition was accompanied by scenes of supporters raising their right arms in the traditional fascist greeting while chanting “Duce, Duce,” the title adopted by Mussolini.
In the same year, Lazio fans were sharply condemned by Jewish leaders and Italian politicians for distributing mocking images of Anne Frank — the Dutch-Jewish diarist who perished in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945 — dressed in the jersey of a rival team.
In 2019, Italian prosecutors announced a murder investigation after Fabrizio Piscitelli — a leading member of the antisemitic, far-right Ultras — was shot dead in a park in Rome. Piscitelli was described as a “central figure” with links to a range of criminal groups.
In Jan. this year, authorities ordered the closure of the Curva Nord section of the Stadio Olimpico, where Lazio’s hardcore fans stand, for one match, following racist chants in a match against Lecce which reduced French international Samuel Umtiti to tears.