June 28 – Italy has banned players from wearing No. 88 on their shirts as part of an initiative combating anti-semitism. The No. 88 is a numerical reference for the nazi slogan ‘Heil Hitler’.
The agreement allows for games to be suspended “in the event of anti-Semitic chants, acts and expressions”, similar to the way cases of racism are supposed to be handled.
Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi said the moves are “an adequate and efficient response to intolerable prejudice that too often arises in our stadiums.”
“Anti-Semitism must be strongly fought, together with everything that excludes, despises and discriminates against every human being, every social group, every minority.
“The declaration of intent signed is only the first step of a broader strategy that will result in a new document on preventing and combating all forms of racism and discrimination in sport.”
A fan wore a Lazio shirt with 88 on the back during the team’s win against rivals Roma in March, while two other supporters were involved in another apparent anti-Semitic incident. Lazio said the three fans would be banned for life from attending games at Stadio Olimpico.
Italian Fan president Gabriele Gravina added: “Soccer’s credibility, which gets hurt and damaged by discriminatory behavior, has a direct reflection on Italian society.”
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