The Italian Almanac

Hulk Di Canio

Italian News - December 13

Lazio striker Paolo Di Canio's second Fascist salute in less than a year was condemned on Monday by soccer officials, politicians and members of Italy's Jewish community. Pundits said the player was certain to face a soccer disciplinary panel as he did earlier this year after making the gesture at a Roma-Lazio derby. On that occasion, the Italian Soccer Federation (FIGC) fined him 10,000 Euro.

Among the politicians who were first to respond to the incident in Lazio's 2-1 defeat at Livorno was Rome's leftwing mayor, Walter Veltroni, who said "politics must be kept out of stadiums." He said he was surprised the Italian press did not make front-page news out of the case, and urged soccer officials and politicians "not to underestimate such displays." A spokesman for Italy's main Jewish association said: "It's time this be brought to a halt." He urged FIGC and Lazio to "take appropriate action against the player."

FIGC Deputy Chairman Luigi Abete said "we would make a great mistake if we turned football grounds into theatres for upholding cultures that have nothing to do with soccer." Livorno Vice President Aldo Spinelli disclosed that the referee had specifically asked players to refrain from provocative gestures that might whip up hard-line politicised elements in the crowd.

Di Canio's salute comes after a resurgence of soccer violence and a debate on racism sparked by a black player's refusal to play on while suffering racist abuse. Lazio has long been known for the neo-Fascist sympathies of its 'ultras', while Livorno fans are just as famous for their far-left views. Di Canio himself was unrepentant, saying "I can't help saluting like that" and promising that he would always salute Lazio fans in the same way.