ROME: Lazio said they "cannot accept a gratuitous insult" to their "entire fanbase" after the French interior ministry banned the Italian club’s travelling supporters from attending the Europa League game against Olympique Marseille due to concerns over violence and fascist chanting.
The two clubs meet in the French city on Thursday, two weeks after a 0-0 draw in Rome that Marseille fans were barred from travelling to.
On Monday, France’s interior ministry banned “any person claiming to be a supporter of Lazio or behaving as such” from travelling to the municipality of Marseille.
It cited “violent behaviour of some fans in a recurrent way around the stadiums and in city centres”, as well as “repeated interpretation of fascist chants and Nazi salutes” as its justification.
Lazio said in a statement that the decision for fans to be stopped from travelling was “not a surprise” after Marseille's followers were not allowed to go to Italy, but responded strongly to the French ministry’s comments.
“What is astonishing is the method of application of the order on a national scale and its unjustifiable motivations,” read a note on the Italian club’s website.
“Lazio cannot accept a gratuitous insult to its entire fanbase and the club itself, which has always fought against violence and every type of discrimination inside and outside the stadium.”
A section of Lazio fans have previously been punished by European governing body UEFA for fascist salutes and racist chants, including after a Europa League game against French side Rennes in Oct 2019.
There was violence in the Marseille stadium during a game against Turkish side Galatasaray on Sep 30, when play was stopped for around eight minutes after projectiles were thrown by both sets of fans and police were deployed to restore order.
“We have seen that violence in stadiums is unfortunately a widespread and worrying phenomenon, starting with what happened recently at Marseille’s Stade Velodrome,” Lazio’s statement continued.
“We expect a clarification from the French authorities and a clear stance from our own diplomatic service towards expressions that should outrage all Italians, regardless of which team they support.”