Lazio fans tell women to avoid 'sacred' section of stadium

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A small group of Lazio fans stirred up controversy by telling women to avoid one section of their “Curva Nord” at the Stadio Olimpico. (Getty)
A small group of Lazio fans stirred up controversy by telling women to avoid one section of their “Curva Nord” at the Stadio Olimpico. (Getty)

A group of supporters of Italian Serie A club Lazio are under fire for advising “women, wives and girlfriends” to avoid one section of the club’s stadium.

The so-called “ultras” – hardcore “fans” who aren’t really fans at all, but instead cult-ish attention-seekers – distributed flyers prior to Lazio’s 2018-19 Serie A opener against Napoli on Saturday to relay the message.

The ultras always occupy the “Curva Nord,” the north end of Rome’s famous Stadio Olimpico. They began the flyer by writing, in Italian: “The Curva Nord represents for us a sacred space, an environment with an unwritten code to be respected.”

The flyers went on to urge women to stay out of the first nine or ten rows of the section.

“The first few rows, as always, have been experienced like the trenches,” they read. “In the trenches, we do not allow women, wives and girlfriends, so we invite them to position themselves from the 10th row back.

“Those who choose the stadium as an alternative to a carefree and romantic day in [public Rome park] Villa Borghese should go to other sections.”

The flyers were attributed to “Il Direttivo Diabolik Pluto,” one of the leaders of the “fan” group.

Lazio fans’ ugly history

Unfortunately, this type of disgusting sentiment is nothing new. Many of Lazio’s ultras – who represent a small but not insignificant portion of the fan base – are, at best, certified idiots. At worst, they’re racist and sexist pigs.

The group is notoriously anti-Semitic. Last year, fans littered the Stadio Olimpico stands with anti-Semitic graffiti and slogans. They left images that depicted Holocaust victim Anne Frank in a jersey of local rival Roma.

That was one of many episodes. One of the most infamous came during a game against Roma 20 years ago, when fans unfurled a two-piece banner that read, in Italian, “Auschwitz is your homeland. The ovens are your homes.”

Lazio and Roma share the Stadio Olimpico.

Lazio responds to fans’ flyer

Whenever the ultras’ discrimination stirs up controversy, Lazio tries to distance itself from them. A day after the flyers appeared, a club spokesman told Italian news agency Ansa that the ultras’ message “is not the position of the club, we are against any discrimination.”

After last year’s anti-Semitism, the club’s president announced an extensive program designed to combat the behavior.

The club spokesman continued this time around: “Moreover, there is an enormous number of Lazio fans, this instead is an initiative from a few fans. We can’t always intervene to avoid politically incorrect displays like this.”

But Lazio clearly hasn’t done enough to punished those involved in the racism and sexism, and it seems just as pervasive now as ever.

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Henry Bushnell covers global soccer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Question? Comment? Email him at henrydbushnell@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter @HenryBushnell, and on Facebook.

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