Italian judge says slurs against Jews in sport not racism

Members of the Italian Jewish community have criticised a recent court ruling in Rome which saw the acquittal of two football fans from the S.S Lazio team after being filmed in 2013 calling out antisemitic chants.

The Lazio fans watched their team play against Calcio Catania, as they have done many times throughout the world, and cursed supporters of their urban opponents, Roma.

On March 30, 2013, closed-circuit cameras in the Stadio Olimpico captured the two screaming out the words “giallorosso ebreo,” Italian for “yellow-red Jew” in reference to the colours of the club’s football kit.

Policemen brought the two suspects in for investigation shortly after and they later stood trial for incitement and racial hatred.

However, the judge appears to have acquitted the two on the grounds that the phrase “Jewish Roma supporter” does not constitute racism, but is rather an acceptable and legitimate term because of the “historic sports antagonism between the two urban teams.”

“This is merely sports ridicule,” the judge said before discharging the two. He even justified his decision by saying that on the same day, Roma fans were not even present in the stadium.

The head of Rome’s Jewish community in Rome, Ruth Dureghello, wrote on Monday a scathing letter of protest against the legal decision, pointing out: “This is, without doubt, an extremely dangerous precedent for justice in this country.”

Dureghello also explained that the ruling, in practice, lends legitimacy to using the word “Jew” in its most negative form for racist use and any other form of mockery in sports events.


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