Bayern will play Lazio in the Champions League on Wednesday. Aside from everything sporty, this could be unpleasant – the Romans are in disrepute throughout Europe because of right-wing rioters.
A Champions League round of 16 against a mediocre Italian Serie A club – on paper, Los Lazio Rome was an inconspicuous task for FC Bayern at the end of last year. Aside from Munich’s current sporting crisis, the first leg on Wednesday evening (9 p.m., DAZN) has another explosive background: Lazio’s supporters have developed a reputation as right-wing rioters in European football for decades. The north curve in the Olympic Stadium in Rome is considered particularly bad. There are ultras there who make no secret of their admiration for fascism.
The “Società Sportiva” (abbreviated SS) was founded in 1900. Initially it had a bourgeois-conservative following, later a clearly fascist following. Dictator Benito Mussolini (1883-1945) also had a club card. Today this is a thing of the past, but the right arm is still held up in the “saluto romano” (“Roman salute”) during games. The Hitler salute is banned in Germany, but at Lazio the gesture is almost considered folklore.
Fierce competition with AS Roma
From the north curve you can always hear the call for the “Duce” (“Leader”) after Toren. Until a few months ago, a player named Romano Floriani Musssolini – a great-grandson of the dictator – was particularly celebrated. The 21-year-old is now on loan to 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 hard core of the right-wing scene consists of a force of several thousand people who call themselves “Irriducibili”. In German: the “indomitable”. They have been causing mischief for decades. The competition with the other capital city club AS Roma, which is politically considered left-wing, is particularly bitter. It will never be forgotten how they held up an 18-meter-long banner to their opponents at the 1999 derby: “Auschwitz is your home, the ovens are your home.”
This year too, the sad highlight so far was the Roman derby. Dozens of Lazio fans raised their arms again. The black AS striker Romelu Lukaku was vilified with monkey noises. After the game, both camps hunted each other down. During the attack on a bar with AS fans, a 31-year-old was seriously injured by a stab in the abdomen. 16 hooligans were banned from the stadium. Lazio had to play a league game in front of half-empty stands.
But such scenes are by no means limited to the derby. At an away game against US Lecce, French former world champion Samuel Umtiti was recently insulted so badly by Lazio supporters that the game was about to be abandoned. Umtiti left the pitch in tears. Bad scenes also occurred several times during Lazio’s appearances in European competitions.
Repeated incidents with Lazio fans
In Glasgow, Romans marched through the pedestrian zone with their arms raised. Hundreds of hooligans from Lazio and Olympique fought in Marseille. The French Interior Ministry then banned all Lazio supporters from entering the next game – because of their known violence and “habit of singing fascist choirs and showing the Nazi salute”. Eintracht Frankfurt and Werder Bremen have also had unpleasant experiences when they met at European level. Lazio-Ultra’s answer to UEFA’s “Together Against Racism” campaign back then: the right arm.
The club’s management has repeatedly distanced itself from such behavior – so far without much effect. The founding of an anti-right fan group called “Dissidenti” didn’t achieve much either. Nevertheless, one should of course not place all Lazio fans under suspicion. The prominent TV journalist Giovanna Botteri, for example, says: “I am a Lazio supporter. But I am neither a fascist nor violent.”
We are now eagerly awaiting the game against FC Bayern – a club that made its long-time Jewish president Kurt Landauer (1884-1961) honorary chairman some time ago and had its own behavior during the Nazi years examined scientifically. At the most recent meeting with Lazio, everything remained peaceful: However, the two round of 16 matches in spring 2021 took place in front of practically empty stands due to the corona. The Stadio Olimpico will be well occupied again – including the north curve.
I am Pierce Boyd, a driven and ambitious professional working in the news industry. I have been writing for 24 Hours Worlds for over five years, specializing in sports section coverage. During my tenure at the publication, I have built an impressive portfolio of articles that has earned me a reputation as an experienced journalist and content creator.