John wrote here about the display of anti-Semitism directed by fans of Lazio, an Italian soccer team, against Tottenham Hotspur supporters in Rome last week. Before the match, Lazio’s “Ultras” attacked Spurs fans, sending one to the hospital with serious stab wounds. Then, during the match, they chanted “Juden Tottenham” – using the German word for Jew — and unfurled a “Free Palestine” banner. Tottenham, as John noted, is strongly supported by Jewish soccer fans in London.
Lazio, for its part, has long been supported by Italian fascists; indeed, was it was Mussolini’s favorite team. So as atrocious as its fan’s conduct was, it came as no surprise to me.
The same cannot be said with respect to West Ham United, the famous club from London’s East End. During a match against Spurs today, West Ham fans taunted Tottenham about the stabbing. They chanted “Viva Lazio,” and sang the name of former Lazio and Hammers star Paolo Di Canio. A self-proclaimed fascist, Di Canio epitomizes Lazio’s “ultras” and twice delivered the fascist salute to celebrate goals.
Worst of all, on at least three occasions during the game, West Ham fans made a hissing noise. That noise was interpreted to mimick the sound of gas released into the death chambers at concentration camps during World War Two. In context, I’m not sure that any other interpretation is possible.
As John suggested at the conclusion of his Lazio-Tottenham post, anti-Semitism is widening in Europe. It seems to be as fashionable in London as in a hotbed of Italian fascism.