Ronald S. Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, has reacted with shock and dismay at the latest display of anti-Semitism among supporters of the Italian club S.S. Lazio, which occurred during a Europa League match between Lazio and the English club Tottenham Hotspur in Rome on Thursday evening. Lauder called on the European football governing body UEFA to take strong measures against Lazio if it fails to rein in hard-core anti-Semitic supporters: “It seems that all those expensive campaigns against racism that were run in recent years by UEFA, FIFA and others have not made a lasting impression, at least not on serial offenders such as certain supporters of Lazio.”
The WJC president went on to say: “The only way to overcome this ugly phenomenon is to threaten tough consequences for clubs who don’t take their obligation seriously to keep hatemongers and racist thugs out of stadiums. This problem of racist Lazio supporters is not new, and it ought to be taken more seriously by all people concerned. Imposing fines on the clubs whose fans misbehave in such a way is obviously completely ineffective.”
The match was marred by anti-Semitic chanting, with Lazio fans chanting “Juden Tottenham, Juden Tottenham” and unrolling a huge banner saying ‘Free Palestine’. Tottenham has a strong following from the Jewish community in North London.
Prior to the match ten Tottenham supporters were injured, one of them suffered injuries to an artery and is in a serious condition. They were attacked outside a pub in Rome by dozens of masked men. It remains unclear if the attackers were fans of Lazio or another Rome football club.