“This is not a curva. This is not football. This is not a sport. Get anti-semites out of the stadiums.” -Ruth Dureghello, President of Rome’s Jewish Society.
Monday morning, just as cleaning crews were making their rounds following Lazio’s Sunday match, workers came across something so grotesque and despicable, it makes you question if this is sport – is this humanity?
Pictures of Anne Frank were photoshopped to show the Holocaust’s most known victim in a Roma shirt. Along with other racial and homophobic slurs, Lazio’s ultras had “left their mark” for all of Roma’s Curva Sud to see. What they were doing occupying the Sud is still a mystery, since the Biancocelesti supporters had been banned from their Curva Nord in the Stadio Olimpico following punishment for, you guessed it, racist behaviour.
Since World War II, Hitler has acted as the basis for exemplifying immorality. Anne Frank, the 16-year-old whose diary was uncovered after her father returned to Holland, is the most vivid account of the anxiety and stress felt by one fearing for their life during Nazi occupation. To the Irriducibili though, she’s just a mule, carrying weight to insult Roma’s fans. What the Lazio ultras ended up doing was disrespecting themselves as people, and all of humanity. Frank died next to her sister in a concentration camp. 17 million others were murdered under the Third Reich.
Lazio president Claudio Lotito will be attending a synagogue later in the week, where he will bring a wreath to show solidarity. Italian football’s governing board, the FIGC, will launch an investigation into the matter on Tuesday morning. But when the sun sets under the Palatine Hill, will anything be truly accomplished? What will change? These “fans” are indifferent to the fines their club faces, the distractions it causes for their players, and the negative attention it brings. The referees can halt matches when hearing racist chanting, security measures can be improved to quickly identify and ban the perpetrators, but at the end of the day it is we the fans who need to do our part.
Racism won’t be eradicated from the stadiums until we the fans act as a force to say “it’s not okay.” Sections of the Curve will foster these pockets of racism and homophobia as long as we allow it, but when we act as a group, progress can be made. What Lazio and its fans must do now is fight this civil war within themselves. In order to fight the gloom you must pick up a broom. What we can do though, is educate future generations – our children, nieces and nephews, and fellow fans in knowing that “it’s not okay.”