Lazio 'ultra' fans want no women in stadium 'sacred space'
A view of Lazio fans choreography prior to the start of an Italian Serie A soccer match between AS Roma and Lazio, at the Olympic stadium in Rome, Sunday, April 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
ROME -- Lazio's "ultra" fans have caused outrage by telling women to avoid their "sacred space" in the club's Stadio Olimpico.
The die-hard supporters distributed flyers ahead of their team's Serie A opener at home to Napoli.
"The Curva Nord represents for us a sacred space, an environment with an unwritten code to be respected," read the flyer. "The first few rows, as always, have been experienced like the trenches. In the trenches, we do not allow women, wives and girlfriends, so we invite them to position themselves from the 10th row back.
"Those who choose the stadium as an alternative to a carefree and romantic day in (Rome's) Villa Borghese (gardens), should go to other sections."
Lazio spokesman Arturo Diaconale told Italian news agency Ansa on Sunday that "it is not the position of the club, we are against any discrimination."
He added: "Moreover, there is an enormous number of Lazio fans, this instead is an initiative from a few fans. We can't always intervene to avoid politically incorrect displays like this."
Some Lazio fans caused outrage last season when they littered the Stadio Olimpico in Rome with images of Anne Frank -- the young diarist who died in the Holocaust -- wearing a jersey of city rival Roma. Lazio was fined 50,000 euros (then $63,000) by the Italian soccer federation because of the anti-Semitism displayed by the team's fans.
It was the latest in a series of racist and anti-Semitic incidents, with Lazio previously having its stadium fully or partly closed for European and domestic matches as punishment.