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.
“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.”
“Lazio, Napoli, #Israel: mismos colores, mismas banderas. Mie*das”. Volantes de la hinchada de @OfficialASRoma que aparecieron en la cuidad. Como hincha de la Roma encuentro nauseabundo este tipo de cosas. No al racismo en el #futbol. pic.twitter.com/gctPIoqnv4
— (((Marco Sermoneta)))???????? (@MarcoCSermoneta) January 9, 2019
Rome mayor Virginia Raggi condemned the incident on Wednesday.
“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.”