icon bookmark-bicon bookmarkicon cameraicon checkicon chevron downicon chevron lefticon chevron righticon chevron upicon closeicon v-compressicon downloadicon editicon v-expandicon fbicon fileicon filtericon flag ruicon full chevron downicon full chevron lefticon full chevron righticon full chevron upicon gpicon insicon mailicon moveicon-musicicon mutedicon nomutedicon okicon v-pauseicon v-playicon searchicon shareicon sign inicon sign upicon stepbackicon stepforicon swipe downicon tagicon tagsicon tgicon trashicon twicon vkicon yticon wticon fm

Falconer axed over fascist support at football match blames his ‘right-wing culture’, proudly praises dictators Mussolini & Franco

Falconer axed over fascist support at football match blames his ‘right-wing culture’, proudly praises dictators Mussolini & Franco
A man who was suspended for fascist symbolism while looking after Italian club Lazio's resident eagle said he acted on "impulse", adding that he is right wing and "proud" to admire dictators Benito Mussolini and Francisco Franco.

Spaniard Juan Bernabe has taken charge of flying the Rome giants' white-headed eagle mascot, called Olimpia, around their famous Stadio Olimpico home stadium ahead of kick-off before matches.

Following a 3-1 victory over current Serie A holders Inter Milan, though, Bernabe was caught on camera chanting 'Duce, Duce' – a tribute to National Fascist Party founder, dictator and ex-Italian prime minister Mussolini – to supporters in the Tribuna Tevere section.

In the clip that has circulated on social media, Bernabe also appeared to make a fascist salute.

Lazio issued a statement appearing to shun being associated with Bernabe and announcing his suspension in the aftermath of the incident.

He has now bizarrely appeared to claim his misunderstanding came about because of a subtle difference in salutes in Spain and Italy, adding an apparent attempt to distance himself from racism despite the nature of the gestures.

"I don't know why all this chaos has broken out," Bernabe protested in an interview with Messaggero.

"It has nothing to do with Lazio and for this I am sorry. For me, it is a military salute.

"I was born into the army. I have a right-wing culture; I am from the Vox party [a conservative group in Spain identified by some as far-right], like many football friends, and I am proud of it."

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

"In Spain, the fascist gesture is done with the arm bent on the heart at chest level. In Italy apparently it is also like this – I did not know," Bernabe claimed, while also not hiding from his affiliations.

"I did it, it's true: I don't deny it because I respect Mussolini. He did so many great things for Italy, as well as Franco in Spain.

"I'm an admirer of both and I'm proud of it. I am a man who has relationships with all races, who has traveled the world, who does business all over the world."

Also on rt.com Playing on the right flank: Italian dictator Mussolini’s great-grandson signs for Lazio as budding star makes name for himself

Bernabe also claimed not to have received any notice of his suspension from Lazio yet.

"I'm waiting for it," he said. "It's in the air. I already know it informally and it's right. I am responsible for what I did. It was an impulse linked to the post-match euphoria after a great win.

"I didn't know that way of celebrating was forbidden in your country, otherwise I wouldn't have done it. I didn't want to put Lazio in difficulty.

"I am here, I am a man and, as such, [I am] ready to pay the consequences immediately."

Lazio face Marseille in the Europa League on Thursday, when Olimpia could make an appearance flown by a new falconer.

Also on rt.com New Lazio signing ‘confronted by far-right ultras’ after singing World War II resistance song at initiation (VIDEO)