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How ‘Fascist’ football hooligans turn Rome into ‘Stab City’ with gangland executions & knife wounds ‘as common as pizza’

AS JUVENTUS fans travel to their away game against Lazio today, they will do so knowing they are taking their lives into their own hands.

So many supporters have been injured, maimed or killed by hooligans backing Rome’s two main Serie A clubs, the Italian capital has become known as ‘Stab City’.

Rome has become known as ‘Stab City’ due to knife-wielding Lazios hooligans

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Rome has become known as ‘Stab City’ due to knife-wielding Lazios hooligansCredit: Alamy
Lazio’s Paolo Di Canio salutes supporters to celebrate a win

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Lazio’s Paolo Di Canio salutes supporters to celebrate a winCredit: Reuters
Lazio has many fascist supporters who chant anti-semitic slogans at rivals

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Lazio has many fascist supporters who chant anti-semitic slogans at rivalsCredit: Rex

Knife wounds are as commonplace as pizza and rip-off ice cream in the Eternal city, with a “puncicate” – a jab in the buttocks, designed to cause pain but not to kill –the favoured method of attack.  

Assaults with weapons occur so regularly that local newspapers no longer bother reporting on them – it is only when other European teams visit that the blade menace becomes clear.

As part of our new series, League of Shame, The Sun examines how football hooliganism is seeing an unwelcome resurgence across the continent – and poses a worrying threat to fans ahead of this summer’s European Championships.

And Lazio ultras, who until recently operated under the Irriducibili banner – meaning The Indomitable in Italian – are amongst the most notorious in the game.

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Infested with fascists and with links to organised crime, they funded their feverish displays in the Curva Nord section of the Olympic Stadium by dealing drugs and carrying out bank robberies.

Author James Montague wrote a book on extreme football fans called 1312: Among the Ultras.

As part of his research, he befriended Lazio capos, or leaders, as well as those with arch-rivals Roma.  

In a recent interview, he said: “English football culture – especially the hooligan scene of the 1980s and 90s – was incredibly influential on Italian ultra culture.

“Roma, Lazio, Atalanta… all credited the English style of chanting, flags and violence as influencing how they approached things. Hooligans were the ultimate symbol of being against the authorities. Like punk. Even today that culture is influential.”

He added: “The ultras who are there week in week out love their club, love football, and love their players when they put in the effort on the pitch comparable to the effort the ultras put in off the pitch.

Lazio and Roma fans launch flares and fireworks at each other in shocking scenes before Rome derby

“It’s a myth that they don’t love football. However, I’d met several capos who had very little interest in football. To them, ultras were a gang. It might as well have been a biker gang or a graffiti crew.”

Admiration for English hooligans has not discouraged Lazio ultras from targeting British footie fans – if anything, it has made their attacks worse.

Stitches in back of head

In 2019, Conor Weir was one of three Celtic fans set upon while celebrating the Glasgow club’s 2-1 Europa League victory over Lazio in Rome.

He returned home with three stitches in the back of his head after masked men jumped out of a car and ran up behind him at around 2.30am.

Celtic fan Connor Weir was left with stitches in the back of his head

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Celtic fan Connor Weir was left with stitches in the back of his headCredit: Supplied
Lazio ultra fans in Glasgow with banner reading “Honour to Benito Mussolini'

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Lazio ultra fans in Glasgow with banner reading “Honour to Benito Mussolini’

Trouble had been brewing ever since Lazio ultras marched through Glasgow two weeks earlier, making fascist salutes in tribute to deceased Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.

Green Brigade fans responded with an anti-fascist protest, erecting a banner that depicted the tyrant hanging upside down and telling ultras to “follow your leader”.

Conor, 20, from Bo’ness, West Lothian, said of his Rome visit: “I wasn’t wearing a Celtic strip, just a green t-shirt, but they must have been driving round looking for people to target and I was unlucky enough to get it.

“It was cowardly. They weren’t looking for a fight, just to hurt somebody and escape without getting any comeback.

“It was over so fast I hardly knew what was happening until I felt a sensation in my back and I felt blood on my top.

“The other three people I was with scattered in panic and I tried to run myself but they grabbed me and stabbed me before I could break free. I’m ok and I’m lucky to escape with what I did.”

Spurs fan knifed in groin

Spurs fan Ashley Mills was knifed in the groin and left with head injuries

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Spurs fan Ashley Mills was knifed in the groin and left with head injuries

In 2012, Tottenham Hotspur supporters were also fortunate to escape alive when they were surrounded by Lazio ultras before another European game.

A group of Spurs fans were drinking at the Drunken Ship pub in Rome when 50 men – their faces covered and wielding knives, baseball bats and iron bars – stormed inside and launched a frenzied assault.

Ten people were injured and two Italian supporters were later charged with attempted murder.

Ashley Mills, 25, was knifed in a groin artery and suffered head injuries during what was described as a racist attack.

I didn’t see the guy who stabbed me – there were too many of them

Ashley MillsSpurs fan

His life was saved by Alberto di Giovanni, 19, a law student, who had recently done a first aid course.

Speaking from his hospital, Essex builder Ashley said: “They came out of nowhere. I didn’t see the guy who stabbed me. There were too many of them.”

There was no physical violence inside the stadium, but antisemitic slogans were aimed at Spurs supporters due to the club’s historic Jewish links.

Fanatical far right ultras chanted “Juden Tottenham”, using the German word for Jew, and a “Free Palestine” banner was unveiled.

Three black players were subjected to monkey chants during the 0-0 draw and one fan said: “We felt in fear all the time.”

It was not the first time Jewish supporters had been targeted by Lazio ultras.  

In October 2017, thugs covered the Olympic stadium with stickers featuring Anne Frank wearing the shirt of their rivals, AS Roma, alongside an antisemitic message.

Facist leader shot dead

Fabrizio Piscitelli, the leader of Lazio’s Ultra fans was shot in the head and killed

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Fabrizio Piscitelli, the leader of Lazio’s Ultra fans was shot in the head and killed
Police investigate the death of the ringleader, known as Diabolik

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Police investigate the death of the ringleader, known as DiabolikCredit: Rex

The Irriducibili’s long-time leader Fabrizio Piscitelli was a self-confessed fascist with links to the Albanian mafia

He had a criminal record for drugs trafficking – in 2016 police seized £1.7m worth of his assets – and he ran the group like a paramilitary outfit, with members dressed identically in blue jeans and the black jackets once favoured by Mussolini.

The group was the first in Italy to erect huge speakers in the terraces so that one ultra could dictate all the chanting and songs. They once ran a merchandising operation that sold their “Original Fans” label at 14 outlets.

Italy star Paolo Di Canio, who later played in the Premier League with West Ham, was a well-known Irriducibili ultra. However, he had to keep his involvement secret at the start of his career.

Too much blood, too many banning orders, too many arrests

Irriducibili ultras

He once said: “I kept the club in the dark about my travels. If they had known that I spent my Sundays with the Irriducibili, visiting far-flung corners of Italy, they would probably have kicked me out of the youth academy.”

The ultras’ power meant that during the 1990s they were often caught on video lecturing the players like schoolchildren at Lazio’s training ground.  

Piscitelli’s reign came to an end when, aged 53, he was taken out in a gangland style hit in Acqueduct park in the Cinecittà area of Rome in 2019.

His ultras then disbanded, releasing a statement saying: “Too much blood, too many banning orders, too many arrests. After 33 years, we have decided to disband the group.”

But the shameful scenes witnessed before Lazio’s last 16 Champions League match with Bayern Munich earlier this month showed the far-right elements are still blighting the club.  

On March 4, hundreds of Lazio fans gathered in the infamous Hofbräuhaus brewery where Adolf Hitler founded the Nazi party in 1920.

Viral videos later emerged that showed them chanting and performing fascist salutes.

Stabbings on a weekly basis

Stabbings linked to football in Rome occur on a weekly basis - and often in buttocks

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Stabbings linked to football in Rome occur on a weekly basis – and often in buttocksCredit: Corbis – Getty
Partizan's supporters celebrate during the Uefa Cup soccer match between Lazio and Partizan at Rome's Olympic stadium

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Partizan’s supporters celebrate during the Uefa Cup soccer match between Lazio and Partizan at Rome’s Olympic stadiumCredit: AP:Associated Press

John Foot, professor of modern Italian history at University College London and author of Calcio: A History of Italian Football, says Roma and Lazio ultras are the only groups in Italy that still use weapons.

And the situation has got so bad that stabbings linked to football games occur “on a weekly basis” in the Italian capital.  

He said: “People are stabbed in Rome fairly often, but it is so common that it does not make the press.

“It is worse in Rome, which has a particular problem with violence and stabbing.”

Alarmingly, away fans have found they are most often stabbed in the buttocks.

Between 2001 and 2009, around a dozen English football supporters were attacked in this manner whilst visiting Rome.

Foot added of the Lazio ultras: “Puncicate is their speciality and is mainly about hurting rival fans but not killing them.

“They target the buttocks because the victim is not likely to die. These people don’t want to kill and be known as murderers, they want to show they can hurt their rivals and get away with it.”

Roma fans riot with police ahead the Italian Serie A soccer match between Lazio and Roma last year

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Roma fans riot with police ahead the Italian Serie A soccer match between Lazio and Roma last yearCredit: AP

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