Italy’s soccer authorities ruled on Tuesday that stadiums will hold a minute’s silence at their next matches while a passage from Anne Frank’s diary is read out, in response to anti-Semitic stickers posted by Lazio fans.
The stickers of the Holocaust victim wearing the jersey of Lazio’s city rivals AS Roma were found on walls and bathrooms in a section of Rome’s Olympic Stadium used by Lazio supporters during their Serie A match against Cagliari on Sunday.
The episode drew widespread criticism from Italian politicians and media, with President Sergio Mattarella calling it “inhuman and alarming for our country”.
At the next match in all Italy’s soccer divisions a minute’s silence will be held “to condemn the recent episodes of anti-Semitism and to continue to remember the Holocaust,” the soccer federation said in a statement.
While the players line up in the centre of the pitch a poignant passage from Anne Frank’s diary will be read out over the loudspeakers.
Episodes of racism are commonplace in Italian soccer and Lazio supporters, who have a reputation for right-wing extremism, have often run into trouble with the authorities.
The team’s hard-core fans, known as “ultras,” left the stickers and anti-Semitic slogans such as “Roma fans are Jews” in a section of the stadium where Roma supporters usually sit when their team is playing.
The two sides share the same stadium. Anne Frank was born in Germany but her family fled to the Netherlands to escape the Nazis. They lived in hidden rooms in Amsterdam before they were discovered by German occupiers and deported to concentration camps.
She died in the Bergen-Belsen camp aged 15 and her diary recounting the family’s time in hiding became a centrepiece of Holocaust literature.