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20 Oct, 2021 16:14

Italian club Lazio suspend eagle trainer after he is filmed ‘making fascist salute, singing Mussolini song’ on pitch (VIDEO)

Italian club Lazio suspend eagle trainer after he is filmed ‘making fascist salute, singing Mussolini song’ on pitch (VIDEO)

A falconer at Lazio who was criticized by Jewish leaders after being filmed cheering for Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and performing a fascist salute has been suspended, with the Italian club condemning discrimination.

Spaniard Juan Bernabe was previously responsible for flying the Rome club's white-headed eagle mascot, named Olimpia, around its iconic Stadio Olimpico before kick-off ahead of matches.

After an impressive 3-1 win over Serie A champions Inter Milan, however, he appeared to be caught chanting 'Duce, Duce' – a reference to the nickname of National Fascist Party founder, dictator and former Italian Prime Minister Benito Mussolini – to a group of fans.

Bernabe also appeared to be making a fascist salute, with the footage rapidly spreading via social media.

Jewish leaders reportedly spoke of their disgust at the most clip and have called on Italy's Football Association to act swiftly and stamp fascism out of the game.

The President of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, Noemi Di Segni, was quoted by The Athletic as saying: "There can be no ambiguity or hesitation before the ostentation of gestures and symbols that re-invoke fascist ideals.

"The behavior of the handler of the eagle Olimpia, Lazio's symbol, immortalized in a video that went viral, leaves no room for doubt.

"The club and the federation must intervene with the utmost urgency. Fascists and haters must be kicked out of the world of football."

In their own statement distancing themselves from Bernabe and confirming his suspension, Lazio said that a letter had been sent out to remind "suppliers" of their code of ethics and the "principles that have always inspired the company's activities".

"Particular attention has always been placed on the absolute prohibition of proceeding with discriminatory actions and behavior of any kind," it said, adding that those areas were enshrined in its constitution.

Lazio added that Benabe was "not licensed" and was "an employee of a company outside Lazio", and said his behavior had "offended the company, the fans and the values to which the community is inspired".

"Measures have been taken towards the company aimed at the immediate suspension from the service of the person concerned and the possible termination of existing contracts," it added.

Lazio have come under fire in the past for their fans' alleged racist and fascist chanting, such as in 2019, when they faced Celtic in the Europa League.

On that occasion, the Irriducibili ultras group were recorded singing neo-fascist anthem 'Avanti Ragazzi di Buda' and saluting on the streets of Glasgow.

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