Fewer than sixth months after the club’s establishment promised action on antisemitism, Lazio fans have yet again invoked the Holocaust in a match with local rivals Roma.
Lazio fans chanted “Anne Frank is from Roma” at the Roma squad, a match on Sunday shortly after Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Memorial Day.
Roma, who have a reputation as being both a left wing and a Jewish club, often finds itself the target of antisemitic abuse. In November, we wrote about the prevalence of antisemitism across European football, making key, tried-and-tested policy suggestions that could be used to combat it, and expressed hope that similar progress to that which has been seen in the UK could also be seen across mainland Europe. We wrote following hundreds of Lazio ultras, hooligans closely associated with the far right, congregated outside the stadium to perform Nazi salutes, with antisemitic stickers being posted around the stadium. Whilst there have been a handful of arrests for those incidents, the response was largely performative and short lived, with little genuine sign that there have been consistent efforts to identify and punish antisemites.
Italian football clubs are responsible, under Italian domestic law, for the misbehaviour of their fans, and Lazio was fined around 50 thousand Euros in January for the incidents last year, an amount which is a drop in the ocean for a club who is able to pay several players more than this amount each week.
This incident confirms that the events of last year were not an isolated anomaly, but part of a growing and obvious problem in European football. In our previous article, we detailed how British football laws were developed to help counter the far right, which was increasingly using football terraces as a recruiting tool. In order to prevent their national sport becoming a hotbed of antisemitic and racist extremists, Italy must meet this threat with strict laws and strict enforcement of those laws.