Benito Mussolini's great-grandson Romano pens deal at Lazio
Benito Mussolini’s great-grandson signs a professional contract with Lazio – a club that has spent years downplaying its links with far-right fascist groups
- Romano Floriani Mussolini has come up through the Lazio academy system
- The promising right-back, aged 18, has now signed a deal with the Serie A side
- But he is also the great-grandson of infamous Italian dictator Benito Mussolini
- Lazio have had to distance themselves from far-right groups in recent years
The great-grandson of the Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini has signed a deal with Lazio, a club that has been dogged by links to far-right groups through its hardcore fans.
Romano Floriani Mussolini has already been part of the Rome club’s academy set-up, featuring twice in the matchday squad for youth team, and will now link up with the Serie A side’s Under-18 squad.
The right back’s official contract with Lazio is set to cause controversy given the club’s past links with far-right fascist groups.
Romano Floriani Mussolini, pictured with his mother Alessandra, has signed a deal with Lazio
Romano Mussolini is a promising right back and will link up with the club’s Under-18 squad
Benito Mussolini was Italy’s dictator during World War II, reigning from 1922 until 1943. At the end of the war, during which he allied with Nazi Germany and Japan against Great Britain, France and the United States and launched conflicts in Europe and Africa, he attempted to flee the nation, only to be hunted down and executed.
However, the 18-year-old’s mother, Alessandra, a former MP, refused to be drawn into the politics of the signing and insisted that Romano’s focus was on his football career and not political issues.
‘I have nothing to comment on’, she told the Adnkronos press agency. ‘It’s something I prefer to stay out of. My son wants no sort of meddling in his private life or choices.’
Romano is thought to be a promising prospect at the club, who he has joined while finishing studying at an English language school in Rome, with his youth coach Mauro Bianchessi claiming his rise up the ranks has nothing to do with his infamous surname and more in line with his dedication to improving as a footballer.
Romano is the great-grandson of the war-time Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini
Having worked with him over two years, now the fruits of that hard work are paying off,’ Binachessi told Il Messaggero.
‘He’s a humble boy who’s never complained, not even when he didn’t play for two years,’ he also told Repubblica. ‘I like him. He’s not a seasoned player yet, but he looks promising.
‘The burdensome surname? I’ve never spoken to his parents, and the only thing that matters is whether a player deserves to play. Nothing else.’
There is concern though that the Mussolini name appearing on the Lazio shirt would encourage far-right elements of the club’s fanbase who have landed them in trouble with authorities in recent years.
Lazio players warmed up in shirts reading ‘no to all anti-Semitism’ after supporters had previously caused controversy by littering the ground with Anne Frank in a Roma shirt stickers
In 2018, Lazio were fined €50,000 by the Italian Football Federation after supporters littered the club’s home pitch at the Stadio Olimpico with stickers of Anne Frank, the young Jewish diarist who was murdered in the Holocaust, mocked up wearing the shirt of the club’s bitter rivals Roma.
Lazio argued it had taken all reasonable steps to prevent the incident and that it was only a small number of fans who carried it out. In their following game the first-team warmed up in jerseys bearing an image of Anne Frank and the words ‘No to anti-Semitism’.
Previously in 2005, the club were at the centre of another political storm when striker Paolo Di Canio was fined €10,000 by the Italian Football League after making a fascist-style salute to supporters during a derby victory over rivals Roma.
Di Canio had claimed the straight arm gesture he made was a misrepresentation made by a cameraman but the league’s disciplinary commission claimed the gesture had ‘immediately and unequivocally recalled a precise political ideology’.
Former forward Paolo Di Canio was fined for making a fascist-style salute to Lazio supporters, who are infamous for links to the far-right, during a derby victory over rivals Roma in 2005
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