Lazio and Roma are two Italian soccer teams that share a stadium, Rome’s Stadio Olimpico. Earlier this week, to taunt their cross-town rivals, Lazio fans littered the stadium with stickers showing Anne Frank wearing a Roma jersey, an allusion to Roma’s fans being left-wing and Jewish.
It was a sickening gesture, but nothing, sadly, out of the ordinary in European soccer, where teams are frequently identified as “Jewish” by fans and foes alike and where Holocaust and other anti-Semitic references are common. What is exceptional is the Italian league’s reaction: Immediately after the offensive stickers were discovered, Italy’s soccer federation announced that portions of Frank’s diary will be read at all league games this week, combined with a minute of silence for the victims of the Holocaust.
“Anne Frank doesn’t represent a people or an ethnic group. We are all Anne Frank when faced with the unthinkable,” Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano said. “What has happened is inconceivable.”