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Soccer: offensive chanting getting 'out of control'

Scirea widow threatens protest after anti-Semitic Juve chants

11 March, 18:20
Soccer: offensive chanting getting 'out of control' (By Paul Virgo) (ANSA) - Rome, March 11 - The head of Italian sport warned Tuesday behaviour at the country's soccer grounds was getting out of hand after last weekend's soccer action was marred by anti-Semitism The widow of former Juventus great Gaetano Scirea on Monday threatened to withdraw her late husband's name from a stand at the Italian champions' Turin stadium after a group of fans sang anti-Semitic chants during Sunday's 1-0 home win over Fiorentina.

Renzo Gattegna, president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, also expressed outrage and called for the fans responsible to be identified and banned from football.

On Sunday fans of the Florence visitors, meanwhile, uncovered banners gloating about the deaths of 39 Juventus fans at 1985 Heysel Stadium disaster before the start of the 1985 European Cup final against Liverpool.

"It makes you reflect to say the least," said Giovanni Malagò, the president of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI), when asked about the threat by Scirea's wife Mariella.

"But, above all, it causes sadness and embarrassment. "We are slowly sliding to a situation that is out of control.

"The soccer world has to look itself in the face with honesty given what is happening in the stadiums, as these are no longer isolated cases".

A number of Juventus fans have been reported to prosecutors over banners displayed at a derby match last month celebrating the 1949 Superga air disaster in which 31 people were killed, including 18 players of city rivals Torino.

One of the two banners displayed during the February 23 match at the Juventus Stadium, which Juve won 1-0, read: "when you fly, think of Toro".

Juventus, who lead Serie A by 14 points and look set to win a third consecutive league title, were fined 25,000 euros over the banners.

Several Serie A teams have had to play matches with parts of their stadium closed this season after the Italian Soccer Federation (FIGC) introduced stricter punishments to crack down on racism, which has dogged football here for years, and so-called regional discrimination.

Second-placed Roma, for example, had to play their last two home games with several sections of their stadium closed due to anti-Neapolitan chants by fans, including calls for Mt Vesuvius to erupt to "clean" Naples. Nevertheless, there were more offensive chants in Roma's 1-0 defeat at Napoli on Sunday and the case has been referred to FIGC prosecutors, along with the Juventus-Fiorentina one. Followers of many clubs, including Napoli, have rebelled against the punishment of regional discrimination, saying it targets the leg-pulling that is a traditional part of Italian soccer.

"Closing the stands seems to have created other problems," said Malagò.

"So it's necessary to look at things differently".