Lazio fans in Rome accused of anti-Semitic, racist chants
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Lazio fans in Rome accused of anti-Semitic, racist chants

Spokesman for Italian soccer club defends team, in latest anti-Semitic incident to roil crosstown rivalry with Roma

Illustrative: Lazio supporters celebrate at the end of a Serie A soccer match between Lazio and Genoa at Rome's Olympic stadium, September 23, 2018. (AP/Alessandra Tarantino)
Illustrative: Lazio supporters celebrate at the end of a Serie A soccer match between Lazio and Genoa at Rome's Olympic stadium, September 23, 2018. (AP/Alessandra Tarantino)

Italian soccer club Lazio was embroiled in controversy on Saturday after racist and anti-Semitic chanting broke out during a Coppa Italia match.

Lazio crushed third-division Novara 4-1 in their last-16 game at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico.

However, their hardcore ultra fans aimed a series of ugly barbs at the club’s bitter city rivals Roma, with taunts of “Yellow, red and Jewish” and “This Roma that looks like Africa.”

They also targeted police who clashed with Lazio fans on Wednesday at Piazza della Liberta in the capital when celebrations to mark the club’s 119th anniversary turned violent. Eight police officers were injured and four supporters arrested.

Lazio spokesman Arturo Diaconale said those doing the chanting were a small minority.

Lazio soccer team president Claudio Lotito, accompanied by Lazio player Felipe Anderson, center, places a wreath outside Rome’s Synagogue, Tuesday, October 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

“I am one of the 98 percent of people in the stadium who didn’t hear them,” he said.

“The club naturally condemns any racist or anti-Semitic chants … I think it’s a form of psychosis focusing on either a minority or non-existent incidents,” he said.

Last week, Rome police said they were investigating after Roma fans displayed posters aimed at Lazio and another club deemed “anti-Semitic.”

The text of the flyers read: “Lazio, Napoli and Israel, same colors, same flags. S**t.”

Rome mayor Virginia Raggi condemned the incident on Wednesday.

An image of holocaust victim Anne Frank with reading “We are all Anne Frank,” prior the Italian Serie A football match Bologna vs Lazio on October 25, 2017 at the Renato-Dall’Ara stadium in Bologna. (AFP PHOTO / Gianni SCHICCHI)

“I firmly condemned the anti-Semitic posters which appeared in Rome,” she wrote on Twitter.

“Soccer can not be division and intolerance.”

In January 2018, Lazio was fined after supporters wore stickers with pictures of Holocaust victim Anne Frank doctored to look like she was wearing a Roma jersey, with slogans such as “Roma fans are Jews.”

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