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Sunday March 3 2013
The Usual Suspects

Lazio face two European matches behind closed doors. Dylan Fahy looks at sectors of the support and their persistent unacceptablebehaviour

“It is not right that the club has to pay for the errors of the individual,” slammed Lazio President Claudio Lotito in the aftermath of UEFA inflicting a two-match order to play behind closed doors and a €40,000 fine. The capital club has struggled to control the behaviour of its supporters throughout the campaign and have persistently earned unwanted attention for acts of racism and violence during midweek European duty.

Lotito has a concrete case when examining several members of Lazio’s hardcore ultra fan base. Sectors of supporters such as fan group the Irriducibili even defend acts of racism by claiming they are a means of “distracting the opposition” for the benefit of their team. When dealing with people who can even fathom such a defence, it is clear for all to see the club has a real battle on their hands to irradiate the problem.

The Biancocelesti’s recent punishment stems from inspectors at the Stadio Olimpico spotting around 300 members of the crowd performing fascist salutes during the 2-0 Europa League win over Borussia Monchengladbach. Storied issues with ultras this season has not been isolated to that occasion, and have marred matches both in Europe and domestically.

Incidents during their group stage campaign in the Europa League have been well documented. Heavy fines have been imposed for disturbances that included racist abuse, ignition of fireworks and incidents of a non-sporting nature from supporters in matches against Tottenham Hotspur and FC Maribor. The attack on Spurs fans at the Campo de’ Fiori district was disgraceful, but remains shrouded in mystery, as both Lazio and Roma ultras were arrested.

The attitude of the ultras has to change for the benefit of the team they cherish, as the incidents this term have marred an excellent run of form from Vladimir Petkovic’s men at times. Their next two games, including the tie with Stuttgart, will not be played without the fans that genuinely support the club and it is becoming apparent that the punishments are beginning to heavily impact on the team.

Lazio officials are right to stress that a minority are at the centre of their problems, but they usually happen to also be the loudest. The fact is they need more assistance from the FIGC in combating their issues and all of Italian football has to band together to stand up to acts of racism and violence. 

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Have your say...
They are black players and other ethnic players on lazio team, they are rascist groups in every country but unfortunatly UEFA picked Lazio to show rest of europe as an example.
on the 5th March, 2013 at 9:41am
it is a roman salute from the roman empire and Hitler modeled hes army on the Romans hence the standards with the eagles.this maybe true that it is accustomed to the nazis but i find that there are a lot of un educated ppl around it decends from the roman empire just as bad tbh as the nazis if truth be told.it is a roman salute it always has been .im not agreeing with racism but the fact is its a roman salute from the roman empire.thats a fact
on the 4th March, 2013 at 7:21pm
"Tennis anyone?"? do you really read the article?? nobody is suggesting to shut up, but everybody suggest to cheers with proper manner. Case closed.
on the 4th March, 2013 at 12:40pm
Lazio team and its authorities are blameless, only small minority groups did this so who is to be punished?
on the 4th March, 2013 at 12:16pm
Its a world wide problem that we can not go anyway anymore unless we tow the line. That means - PAY - sit down & shut up. Imagine a goal kick about to be taken & over the loud speaker we are told to keep quiet. Tennis anyone?
on the 3rd March, 2013 at 7:58pm
somebody can not say or do (salute) ANYTHINGS in this days without somebody to be offended from it...
on the 3rd March, 2013 at 6:18pm
@julius

You gotta be kidding? This is one of the main reason why I always disliked Lazio. 2013 that gesture is considered as 'pretty' offensive and is under no circumstances mixed up with old greeting gesture under the Roman Empire.
on the 3rd March, 2013 at 4:39pm
Punish the ultras - not the club.
on the 3rd March, 2013 at 3:59pm
Julius the salute is worldwidely seen as a nazi salute regardless of its origins
on the 3rd March, 2013 at 2:47pm
Closing the stadium for 2 games won't do anything to solve the problem. Identifying those cabbage-brains and making sure they never get into the stadium again is the only way to stomp it out.
If they gradually get banned from the stadium, then they'll eventually nullify their influence.
on the 3rd March, 2013 at 11:00am
I'm against racism but Lotito also has an interesting point. Abusing black players and Jews is clearly racist action. But being punished for performing salute is absurd. It is not genuinly NAZI salute. It is Roman salute. Hitler "stole" it and claimed to be theirs. Originally it's Roman salute, and we are in Roma. What's wrong with that? You cannot be punished for raising your right hands.
on the 3rd March, 2013 at 10:40am

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