Lazio ultras called new signing Elseid Hysaj ‘a worm’ after he sang an anti-fascism anthem, proudly declaring that their club ‘is fascist.’
The row shows no signs of calming down, despite the footage being removed from social media and the club releasing a statement urging everyone to stop politicising their players.
Albania international Hysaj joined in the traditional ritual for a new signing of standing up at dinner and singing a song in front of his teammates.
He chose to sing ‘Bella Ciao,’ which he probably knew for its use in Netflix show Money Heist (Casa de Papel), but which in Italy is known as the anthem of the partisans who fought Benito Mussolini’s regime in the 1940s.
In recent years, that has become a song associated in general with the left-wing political leanings in Italy.
A banner signed by the Lazio ultras appeared on a bridge in Rome this evening: ‘Hysaj is a worm, Lazio is fascist.’
As if there were any doubts, one of the leaders of the ultras movement – Franco ‘Franchino’ Costantino – outlined the situation to the Adnkronos news agency.
“Historically, our fans have always been to the extreme right, and I say that with pride. Someone singing ‘Bella Ciao’ with a Lazio jersey on is just completely insane.
“Hysaj was wrong, there are no excuses.”
Lazio President Claudio Lotito has long tried to distance his club from the reputation of the fans as fascist sympathisers, but it was always a losing battle.
In 2019, a group of them famously held up a banner that read: ‘We honour Mussolini.’
They have also repeatedly been penalised for racist and anti-Semitic abuse towards players and opposition fans.
A former leader of the Lazio ultras groups, Fabrizio Piscitelli nicknamed Diabolik, was shot dead in a Roman park in broad daylight in August 2019 in what seemed to be an organised hit linked with drug dealing gangs.
Caso ‘Bella Ciao’, striscione choc a Roma: ‘#Hysaj verme, la #Lazio è fascista’ https://t.co/psGQM9B5Oh pic.twitter.com/TlLNCpGS3b
— calciomercato.com (@cmdotcom) July 19, 2021