Italy bans number 88 on football players' shirts amid 'Heil Hitler' reference

The new rules will also ban symbols recalling Nazism


BERGAMO, ITALY - MAY 20: Mario Pasalic of Atalanta BC celebrates with teammates after scoring the team's second goal during the Serie A match between Atalanta BC and Hellas Verona at Gewiss Stadium on May 20, 2023 in Bergamo, Italy. (Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images)

Italian football players will be banned from wearing the number 88 on their shirts in a move to tackle antisemitism

The number 88 is a numerical code for “Heil Hitler” and is often used by white supremacists. 

The changes, being coordinated between the Italian government and soccer federation, will also ban symbols recalling Nazism.

As a result of the ban, two players in Italy’s top league Serie A are understood to be affected. 

These include Toma Basic from Lazio and Mario Pasalic from Atalanta. Gokhan Inler and Hernanes have all also worn the number 88 during their time in Italy.

In addition, new rules will mandate fans to use non-discriminatory language at all public events and set out guidelines on how to suspend matches in cases of discrimination.

Authorities say instances of racism and antisemitism have been commonplace in Italian stadiums with fans regularly booing or shouting abuse at Black players, using the word "Jew" as an insult and displaying Nazi or fascist symbols.

In March last year, a supporter wore a Lazio shirt with the name 'Hitlerson' and the number 88 during during the club’s 1-0 win over AS Roma. 

Two other fans also performed 'Roman salutes', which are associated with fascism. The three fans were banned for life from attending matches. 

Italian Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi said the moves were “an adequate and efficient response to intolerable prejudice that too often arises in our stadiums.”

Soccer federation president Gabriele Gravina said: “Soccer’s credibility, which gets hurt and damaged by discriminatory behaviour, has a direct reflection on Italian society.”

The Italian Jewish community in the past has also urged Italian sports authorities to do more to root out antisemitism in stadiums.

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