Israeli sports minister asks Italy to rein in soccer racism

Israeli sports minister asks Italy to rein in soccer racism

JERUSALEM - The Associated Press

Israel's sports minister asked her Italian counterpart on Wednesday to crack down on racism in soccer after Lazio supporters plastered stickers at a stadium with images of Holocaust victim and diarist Anne Frank wearing a jersey of city rival Roma.

Miri Regev's office said a letter dispatched to Luca Lotti called the display "despicable" and accused thousands of Lazio fans of openly identifying with neo-Nazi symbols. She wrote that calling Roma players "Jews" inferred they were a "scourge to be avoided."

The Italian soccer federation has said a passage from Frank's diary will be read aloud at all soccer matches in Italy this week. It said it would also be combined with a minute's silence before Serie A, B and C matches to promote Holocaust remembrance.

Lazio supporters plastered the stickers during Sunday's match against Cagliari in the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. The stickers show a well-known photo of a smiling Anne with a superimposed red Roma jersey.

The Anne Frank House issued a statement on Tuesday.

"We are shocked by these anti-Jewish expressions which are extremely painful to those who have experienced the consequences of the persecution of the Jews," it said.

Anne Frank became a tragic symbol for all Holocaust victims because of the diary she wrote while in hiding from the Nazis in Amsterdam with her family from 1942-1944. They were betrayed, caught, and deported, and Anne died in a German concentration camp at age 15.

Her father, Otto Frank, survived Auschwitz and later published Anne's diary.

Six million Jews were systematically murdered by German Nazis and their collaborators in the Holocaust of World War II, wiping out a third of world Jewry.