Italian soccer club president calls synagogue visit a ‘charade’

SS Lazio players warming up with shirts depicting Anne Frank before a match against Bologna FC at the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara in Bologna, Italy, Oct. 25, 2017. (Marco Rosi/Getty Images)

SS Lazio players warming up with shirts depicting Anne Frank before a match against Bologna FC at the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara in Bologna, Italy, Oct. 25, 2017. (Marco Rosi/Getty Images)

(JTA) – Soccer fans prior to two matches in Italy protested during the reading of a passage from the “Diary of Anne Frank.”

Meanwhile, the president of the Lazio soccer team reportedly was heard on tape calling his visit to a Rome synagogue “a charade” and, referring to Jews, saying “These people don’t count a damn.”

The decision to hold a moment of silence and read from the diary at professional, amateur and youth soccer matches was announced Tuesday, days after Lazio fans plastered a shared stadium with stickers showing the teenage Holocaust diarist wearing the uniform of a rival city club, Roma.

On Wednesday, Lazio players warmed up wearing jerseys with an image of Anne Frank and the words “No to anti-Semitism.” But fans of the Turin squad Juventus turned their backs and sang the country’s national anthem during the reading as a protest.

At a game between Roma and the Calabria-based Crotone, fans shouted team chants during the readings at the same stadium where the stickers were displayed, the BBC reported.

Meanwhile, Lazio President Claudio Lotito is denying that it was his voice on a recording mocking the synagogue visit in the wake of the poster incident. On Tuesday, he laid a wreath of blue and white flowers there and announced he would take 200 fans every year to visit Auschwitz.

The following day, the Italian daily newspaper Il Messaggero released the recording made by passengers as Lotito was boarding a flight from Milan to visit the synagogue in which he said, “These people don’t count a damn, they are worth nothing – do you realize how pathetic the whole thing is? Let’s go do this charade.”

The diary passage that is being recited at games reads: “I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness, I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too, I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquility will return once more.”

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