Updated: October 20, 2021 6:27:49 pm
Lazio on Wednesday suspended falconer Juan Bernabe — the man in charge of flying the club’s eagle mascot before kickoff — after he was filmed at the stadium cheering for Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, the club said in a statement.
Lazio fans have frequently come under fire for allegations of racist chanting and for praising fascism during matches. The club management has been struggling for years to crack down on such conduct.
The video, posted on social media, showed Bernabe in front of a group of Lazio fans and singing the words “duce, duce” (Mussolini’s nickname) with them after last Saturday’s victory against Inter.
“Action was taken … for the immediate suspension of the person concerned from the service and for the possible termination of existing contracts,” with the company Bernabe works for, Lazio said in a statement.
📝 Nota della Società
— S.S.Lazio (@OfficialSSLazio) October 20, 2021
Bernabe is the instructor of Olimpia, the white headed eagle Lazio adopted in 2010. Olimpia’s flight over Rome’s Olympic Stadium before home matches has become a symbolic moment for fans.
The video has sparked outrage among Italian Jewish communities. Noemi Di Segni, the president of the Union of the Italian Jewish communities, has urged the Italian football federation (FIGC) to get fascists out of the game to avoid their hatred “spreading from the pitch to every square” of the country.
Juan Bernabè, the eagle trainer who works at Lazio, was filmed giving the fascist salute to fans at the Olímpico and has now been suspended by the club. 🤮 pic.twitter.com/EzxOS6eOfd
— FutbolBible (@FutbolBible) October 20, 2021
Political extremism and racist abuses are an issue for the Italian top-flight Serie A, where a number of Black players have reportedly being insulted during matches.
Following several incidents of racism at the start of this season, FIGC president Gabriele Gravina has said racist fans must be identified and banned from stadiums for life.
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