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Police identify 16 Lazio fans behind Anne Frank photos

Wednesday October 25 2017

 Inter Milan captain Mauro Icardi (left), Sampdoria counterpart Fabio Quagliarella (fifth left) and referee Marco Guida (third left) sign copies of

Inter Milan captain Mauro Icardi (left), Sampdoria counterpart Fabio Quagliarella (fifth left) and referee Marco Guida (third left) sign copies of "The Diary of Anne Frank" and Italian Jewish writer Primo Levi's memoir "If This Is A Man" to child mascots accompanying players onto the pitch at the San Siro stadium prior the Italian Serie A match between Inter Milan and Sampdoria on October 24, 2017 in Milan. The initiative followed the controversy ignited after Lazio fans defaced the Stadio Olimpico, which they share with rivals Roma, during Sunday's league game against Cagliari with anti-semitic slogans and stickers showing images of Frank. PHOTO | PAOLO RATTIN |  AFP

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MILAN

Italian police have identified 16 people believed to be involved in posting anti-semitic pictures of Anne Frank in a Roma jersey during a football game, according to media reports on Wednesday.

Police examined video footage of Sunday night's Serie A game between Lazio and Cagliari at the Stadio Olimpico when home fans defaced glass barriers with anti-semitic graffiti and images of Frank.

The Jewish teenager, who died in Nazi concentration camp Bergen-Belsen in 1945, was depicted wearing a jersey of their hated city rivals.

Three of those identified are underage — two aged between 16 and 17 years and a third aged 13. They are being investigated for inciting racial hatred.

The images have whipped up a storm in Italian football with the Roman club announcing they also intend to take youngsters every year to visit the former Nazi camp at Auschwitz, in Poland.

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Italian president Sergio Mattarella personally called Interior Minister Marco Minniti to ensure that those responsible would be identified and "permanently banned from stadiums".

The Italian football federation announced that a minute's silence would be held and a passage from Frank's diary will be read before games in Italy this week.

On Tuesday night copies of "The Diary of Anne Frank" were handed out to child mascots accompanying Inter Milan and Sampdoria players onto the pitch at the San Siro.

'MEDIA THEATRE'

Lazio's main fan group slammed the "media theatre" on Wednesday and said they would not be travelling to Bologna later in the day for the teams' Serie A match.

"The 'Irriducibili Lazio' are forced to renounce their trip to Bologna to avoid being complicit in this media theatre of recent hours," the group wrote on Facebook.

"Our usual way of being supporters could today be misinterpreted by those who would then attack Lazio and its supporters.

"At this particular time we invite all the Lazio fans to try not to leave themselves open to new manipulations and to remember that for us the success of Lazio is a priority."

Meanwhile, Lazio president Claudio Lotito, who laid a floral wreath at the Rome Synagogue to remember victims of anti-semitism, slammed the behaviour of "idiots" but insisted a points deduction "would be wrong".

Lazio had already been given a two-match closure of the north end of the Stadio Olimpico for racist chanting.

"It was the behaviour of 15 idiots, who didn't know what they did," he told Radio Capital.

"It would be wrong for the team to be docked points as we'd become hostage to these people going to the stadium just to create chaos.

"It's necessary to suppress and sanction the perpetrators. I hope what's happened doesn't impact on the team psychologically."

The only team to have beaten reigning champions Juventus in the league this season, Lazio are fourth in Serie A just ahead of Roma, who they will meet in the Roman derby on November 18.

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