Fan group aims to rid Lazio of fascist image
Rome: Italian club Lazio have a deeply rooted stereotype that their fans are overwhelmingly right-wing but a group of supporters have mobilised themselves to build a new "Laziale and Anti-Fascist" (LAF) identity.
The emblematic eagle of the Stadio Olimpico side, also the symbol of the fascist party of Benito Mussolini, under the slogan "Love Lazio, Fight Fascism" is one of the stickers printed by LAF.
Created in 2011 (LAF) aims to "destroy the stereotype of the Fascist Laziale in Italy and throughout the world," one of the administrators of the group's Facebook page told AFP, on condition of anonymity.
LAF claims it has several thousand followers, several hundred active members, and says it pursues a two-fold aim: "to erase from the name of Lazio any infamous political label" and "to prevent neo-fascist movements from continuing to use the Curva Nord (North Stand) from indoctrinating young people who have entered the stadium only to support Lazio".
But doing so will be difficult as the Roman club has regularly been sanctioned for the political excesses of some of its supporters. On Thursday, Lazio will host Celtic in the Europa League, a fixture for which local authorities have imposed exceptional security measures.
The Curva Nord will also be closed as punishment for fascist salutes by a section of the crowd during a match against French club Rennes. In the reverse fixture in Scotland, travelling fans were filmed making fascist raised-arm salutes in Glasgow city centre. They were greeted at Parkhead by a banner from Celtic supporters with an image of Mussolini hanging by his feet and the message "Follow Your Leader".
In April in Milan, Lazio supporters paid tribute to the dictator with a flag saying "Honour to Benito Mussolini" at Piazzale Loreto, where
his body was exposed and then hung upside down after his execution 1945.
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