Italy pledges to stamp out anti-Semitism from football stadiums

italy-pledges-to-stamp-out-anti-semitism-from-football-stadiums
Italy pledges to stamp out anti-Semitism from football stadiums

Italy has signed a letter of intent to eliminate anti-Semitism from soccer stadiums across the country. Racism and anti-Semitism are common in Italian stadiums, with fans regularly booing or shouting abuse at Black players, using the word “Jew” as an insult, and displaying Nazi or fascist symbols. During the declaration signing ceremony in Rome, Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi stated that the initiative represents a “great contribution” to soccer. The declaration will forbid soccer players from wearing the number 88, a reference to the ‘Heil Hitler’ salute, and ban symbols recalling Nazism. It will also mandate fans to use non-discriminatory language at all public events and set out guidelines on how to suspend matches in cases of discrimination.

The Jewish community has previously urged Italian sports authorities to do more to root out anti-Semitism in stadiums. Last March, during Lazio’s 1-0 win over AS Roma in the city derby, a supporter wore a Lazio shirt with the name ‘Hitlerson’ and the number 88, while two other fans performed ‘Roman salutes’, which are associated with fascism. The President of Rome’s Jewish Community Ruth Dureghello had tweeted, commenting on the pictures and videos that circulated on social media following the match, “Is it possible that everyone keeps ignoring this?” Lazio later announced that the three fans would be banned for life from attending any games at the Stadio Olimpico.

The initiative is a step towards eradicating anti-Semitism from soccer stadiums across Italy. It will forbid players from wearing the number 88 and ban symbols recalling Nazism. Fans will be mandated to use non-discriminatory language at all public events and guidelines will be set out on how to suspend matches in cases of discrimination. The Jewish community has previously called for more action to be taken to root out anti-Semitism in stadiums. Lazio banned three fans for life from attending any games at the Stadio Olimpico after they wore a Lazio shirt with the name ‘Hitlerson’ and the number 88 and performed ‘Roman salutes’ during a match against AS Roma.

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