Champions League round of 16 against a mediocre Serie A side – On paper, Lazio Rome was a low-profile target for Bayern at the end of last year.
Some Lazio ultras worship fascism
Apart from the current sporting crisis in Munich, Wednesday night’s first leg (21:00, DAZN) has another explosive background: Lazio fans have for decades earned a reputation as right-wing rebels in European football. The north corner of the Olympic Stadium in Rome is considered particularly bad. There are ultras there who do not hide their admiration for fascism.
Società Sportiva (abbreviated as SS) was founded in 1900. Initially he had bourgeois-conservative followers, later clearly fascist ones. The dictator Benito Mussolini (1883-1945) also had a club card. Today this is a thing of the past, but the right hand is still raised in the “saluto romano” (“Roman salute”) during games. The Hitler salute is banned in Germany, but in Lazio the gesture is considered almost folklore.
Tough competition with Roma
From the northern turn you can always hear the call of “Duce” (“Leader”) after Toren. Just a few months ago, a player named Romano Floriani Mussolini, the dictator’s great-grandson, was especially celebrated. The 21-year-old is currently on loan at third division club Delfino Pescara for sporting reasons. Lazio graffiti with the abbreviation SS in runic script can also be found around the stadium.
The core of the right-wing scene consists of several thousand people who call themselves “Irriduchibili”. In German: “indomitable.” They have caused harm for decades. Particularly intense is the competition with another club in the capital, Roma, which is politically considered left-wing. I will never forget how they held up an 18-meter banner in front of their opponents in the 1999 derby: “Auschwitz is your home, the ovens are your home.”
Lazio fans repeatedly use racist slurs
This year the saddest event was the Roman derby. Dozens of Lazio fans raised their hands again. Black AS striker Romelu Lukaku was criticized with monkey noises. After the game, both camps began hunting each other. A 31-year-old man was seriously stabbed in the stomach during an attack on a bar filled with AS fans. 16 hooligans were banned from entering the stadium. Lazio had to play the championship match in front of half-empty stands.
But such scenes are by no means limited to derbies. During an away match against American side Lecce, former French world champion Samuel Umtiti was recently so racially abused by Lazio fans that the game had to be abandoned. Umtiti left the field in tears. Unpleasant scenes also occurred several times during Lazio’s European competition.
Frankfurt and Bremen also had unpleasant experiences.
In Glasgow, Romans marched through a pedestrian area with their hands raised. Hundreds of hooligans from Lazio and Olympic fought in Marseille. The French Interior Ministry then banned all Lazio fans from the next game – due to their notorious violence and “habit of singing fascist choirs and performing Nazi salutes.”
Eintracht Frankfurt and Werder Bremen also had unpleasant experiences when they met at European level. Lazio Ultra’s then-response to UEFA’s “United Against Racism” campaign: the right hand.
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The last duel between Bayern and Lazio was peaceful.
The club’s management has repeatedly distanced itself from such behavior – so far without much effect. The creation of an anti-right fan group called “Dissidents” also did not bring much results. However, of course, all Lazio fans should not be subject to suspicion. Famous television journalist Giovanna Botteri, for example, says: “I support Lazio.” But I’m not a fascist or cruel.”
We now look forward to playing Bayern Munich, a club that some time ago made its longtime Jewish president, Kurt Landauer (1884-1961), honorary chairman, and whose own conduct during the Nazi years has been scientifically examined. At the last meeting with Lazio, everything remained peaceful: however, two matches of the 1/8 finals in the spring of 2021 took place in practically empty stands due to corona. On Wednesday, the Stadio Olimpico will be packed again, including the north corner. (dpa/ms)
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