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Why Anne Frank’s diary will be read at Italian football matches

Lazio officials and players laid a wreath at a synagogue to show their sorrow.

Lazio officials and players laid a wreath at a synagogue to show their sorrow. Photo: Getty

The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) has demanded all clubs hold a minute of silence at matches this week – while a passage from Holocaust victim Anne Frank’s diary is read.

The order will see players and fans pause before all professional, amateur and youth matches in Italy, following a rise of anti-Semitic behaviour by football fans in the nation.

Frank was a German-born Jew killed in a concentration camp during World War II and her diary of her family’s time in hiding is world-famous.

During Sunday’s fixture against Cagliari, fans of Italian club Lazio plastered stickers of Frank, wearing a jersey of its arch-rivals, Roma, all over the Stadio Olympico, in addition to anti-Semitic messages.

Lazio and Roma both share the stadium, hosting matches on alternate weekends.

Lazio fans were sanctioned for racist chanting earlier this month and the FIGC are determined to stamp it out.

“The FIGC, in agreement with the Minister for Sport and the Union of Italian Jewish Communities (UCEI) has decided to take a minute’s reflection on all football pitches to condemn recent episodes of anti-Semitism and to continue to cultivate memories of the Holocaust, and the commitment of civil society, especially young people, so that every sporting environment is a place that transmits strong values,” a statement read.

In addition to a passage of Frank’s diary being read, other initiatives involve players handing copies of The Diary of Anne Frank to child mascots and a specially designed shirt for Lazio, emblazoned with Frank’s face, that they will wear against Bologna on Wednesday.

The issue has generated significant attention in Italy, with President Sergio Mattarella dubbing the anti-Semitic behaviour as “inhuman and alarming for our country”.

“The face and pages of the diary of Anne Frank, her story of suffering and her death at the hands of Nazi barbarism, moved the world,” he said.

“Using her image as a sign of insult and threat, in addition to being inhuman, is alarming for our country, which was infected 80 years ago by the obtuse cruelty of anti-Semitism.”

Even European Parliament President Antonio Tajani got involved, blaming “hooligans” for the “horrible” incident.

“I cannot fail to firmly condemn what [is] happening in Rome, where a group of hooligans used the image of Anne Frank to offend the fans of another club. It was a serious deed,” he said.

“Everyone has the right to practice their religion and the Jewish community is part of our union. I think anti-Semitism should remain exclusively a horrible experience from our past.”

The Frank passage that will reportedly be read out at matches reads: “I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness; I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too. I feel the suffering of millions.

“And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquillity will return once more.”

Lazio chairman Claudio Lotito headed a group, featuring players Felipe Anderson and Wallace, who laid flowers at a synagogue in Rome on Tuesday.

The FIGC are also set to open an investigation into Lazio’s supporters, vowing to ban those responsible for the stickers and messages.

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