Lazio fans “once again disgraced themselves” during the Rome soccer derby last Sunday, Italian media reported on Sunday. The Lazio fans, whose team was playing the other eternal city club, Roma, were chanting “Anna Frank e’ della Roma” (Anne Frank is from Roma). Benjamin Newman, who reported the incident, noted that Roma is considered the “Jewish club” of the Italian major soccer league, and that the taunts were being chanted on the weekend that followed Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Società Sportiva Lazio S.p.A., a.k.a. Lazio (pronounced Latzyo) is a professional Italian sports club based in Rome, but, much like the Mets and the Yankees in New York City, Lazio will remain forever the second most favorite team, after the illustrious Associazione Sportiva Roma, or just Roma.
In Italian soccer, Roma is a club with many rivalries – first and foremost with Lazio, the club with which they share the Stadio Olimpico. The derby between the two is called the Derby della Capitale, and it is one of the most emotional and often raucous soccer meets in the world.
Last October, Lazio fans displayed anti-Semitic Anne Frank stickers, showing the world’s most beloved diarist and Jewish Holocaust victim in a Roma uniform, accompanied by the slogan “Roma fans are Jews.” The team was fined 50,000 euros ($62,000).
Thirteen Lazio fans were banned from their team’s stadium for as long as eight years, and the Italian soccer federation was pushing to hold two Lazio home games without fans. Lazio’s president Claudio Lotito said he would pay to send 200 fans to Auschwitz every year – to visit.
The game ended in the kind of tie US soccer haters like to cite when they explain why soccer is so boring: Lazio 0 – Roma 0. Which makes you wonder if there’s a correlation between the number of goals on the field and fan boredom that leads to anti-Semitic artwork (idle hands are the devil’s workshop).
One also wonders how deep European anti-Semitism must be that the mere mention of the J word evokes a reaction similar to the N word in America.