Jewish Group Praises Swift Response Against Italian Soccer Club Lazio Over anti-Semitic Incident

Stickers featuring Anne Frank wearing a rival jersey left in the stadium was the latest in a string of anti-Semitic and racist incidents involving Lazio club fans

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A senior official from the World Zionist Organization expressed solidarity with Rome’s Jewish community on Tuesday following an anti-Semitic incident involving Italy’s Lazio soccer club.

Stickers featuring Anne Frank wearing a Roma jersey were left at the teams' shared stadium in the Italian capital on Monday, the latest in a string of anti-Semitic and racist incidents involving the club’s fans.

The WZO official, Yaakov Hagoel, said in a statement that he stands in solidarity with the president of Rome's Jewish community and the Italian football federation, who are "dealing with anti-Semites with an iron fist."

Hagoel added that soccer is supposed to bring different communities together rather than serving as a divisive force, especially considering Italian soccer's prestige as one of the best in the world.

In response to the event, passages from Anne Frank's diary will be read at all soccer matches across Italy this week.

By Tuesday, most of Italy's newspapers were covering the story, with La Repubblica even writing a dedicating editorial called "We are all Anna Frank."

Lazio soccer team president Claudio Lotito lays a wreath outside Rome's Synagogue, Oct. 24, 2017Credit: Gregorio Borgia/AP

Claudio Lotito, the owner and president of Lazio, laid a wreath of white and blue flowers – the color of both the team and the State of Israel – outside the Great Synagogue of Rome in a sign of good faith to the local Jewish community. He also said the club would send 200 youths every year on visits to Auschwitz, as part of a bid to aid Holocaust educational efforts.

Lazio’s ultras have long been known for their far-right political stances and fascist leanings. During a 1998 derby, Lazio ultras held up a banner directed at their Roma counterparts that read, “Auschwitz Is Your Country; the Ovens Are Your Homes.”