Lazio president Claudio Lotito has vowed to send 200 fans to the Holocaust Museum at Auschwitz in a bid to combat the antisemitism that exists among the club’s ultras.
It comes after Lazio fans used images of Anne Frank to goad rival Roma fans during their recent Serie A match against Cagliari at the Stadio Olimpico, which shared by both Rome clubs.
Ironically, the Lazio supporters were moved into Roma’s Curva Sud as their Curva Nord terrace had been closed due to racist chanting.
Stickers mocked up to show Frank wearing a Roma shirt alongside offensive slogans were then discovered stuck on partition barriers after the match.
— LaGazzettadelloSport (@Gazzetta_it) October 24, 2017
Two days later, amid outcry from the Italian press, Lotito visited the Rome Synagogue to lay a floral wreath which he offered as a gesture of remembrance to all those who suffered at the hands of “Nazi barbarism.”
He also announced an initiative to quash the antisemitism by exposing Lazio ultras to the horrors of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camps as a means of educating the racist element and alleviate the ignorance repeatedly on display in the Curva
We’re here today to disassociate ourselves from any form of xenophobia and antisemitism.
The overwhelming majority of Lazio fans share this position. We’ll do many other initiatives to suppress these incidents through daily action, such as visits by players to schools to educate about the rules, and overcoming social, racial and financial barriers.
We’re not talking here about what Lazio want to do, but what we have always done: Lazio have always been clear in condemning these incidents, with strong signals and even taking people to court.
Today I can officially announce that Lazio will partake in a new annual initiative, organising an annual trip to Auschwitz for 200 Lazio fans to educate and make sure we don’t forget certain episodes, so that these lads can know what it is we’re talking about.
According to Football Italia, the Jewish Community of Rome welcomed the idea of taking ultras to Auschwitz as a “positive” move.
As for the stickers, Rome police, the Italian Football Federation and Lazio themselves have all launched investigations into the incident.
Meanwhile, Lazio and Roma are next scheduled to meet in the upcoming Derby della Capitale on 18th November.
Whether any valuable lessons in tolerance and sensitivity will have been learnt by then remains to be seen.