ROME (JTA) – Italian Jews are protesting an apparent fascist salute given by a player on Rome’s Lazio soccer team.
A statement issued by the Jewish Youth Union of Italy called the gesture by Argentina-born Mauro Zarate during a match Sunday between Lazio and Bari "intolerable."
Zarate, who had been suspended from play in Sunday’s match because of an on-field incident in an earlier match, was photographed in the stands as he apparently gave the stiff-armed fascist salute along with militant Lazio supporters, who in the past have been known for expressing ultra-right-wing sympathies.
The fascist salute, said Jewish Youth Union president Giuseppe Piperno, "evokes tragic historical periods that culminated in the ways we all know well." The episode, he said, "is all the more serious for the effect it could have on children who look at Zarate as an idol to follow."
Piperno called on Zarate to apologize and for sports authorities to evaluate the situation and take any further appropriate steps.