Italy signed on Tuesday a letter of intent aimed at eradicating anti-Semitism from soccer stadiums across the country.
Instances of racism and anti-Semitism are commonplace in Italian stadiums, with fans regularly booing or shouting abuse at Black players, using the word “Jew” as an insult and displaying Nazi or fascist symbols.
The initiative represents a “great contribution” to soccer, said Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi during the declaration signing ceremony in Rome, which also involved Italy’s sports minister and the President of the Italian Football Federation.
The declaration will forbid soccer players from wearing the number 88 – a reference to the ‘Heil Hitler’ salute – and ban symbols recalling Nazism.
It will also mandate fans to use non-discriminatory language at all public events and set out guidelines on how to suspend matches in cases of discrimination.
The Jewish community in the past has urged Italian sports authorities to do more to root out anti-Semitism in stadiums.
Last March, during Lazio’s 1-0 win over AS Roma in the city derby, a supporter wore a Lazio shirt with the name ‘Hitlerson’ and the number 88, while two other fans performed ‘Roman salutes’, which are associated with fascism.
“…Is it possible that everyone keeps ignoring this?,” the President of Rome’s Jewish Community Ruth Dureghello had tweeted, commenting on the pictures and videos that circulated on social media following the match.
Lazio later said that the three fans would be banned for life from attending any games at the Stadio Olimpico.