Lazio suspends its Eagle trainer after being filmed doing a fascist salute.
Juan Bernabe has been the falcon and Olympia’s handler since 2010, getting massive bald eagles to fly from one end of the Stadio Olimpico to the other before kick-off.
He even helped Maurizio Sarri celebrate last month’s win over Roma, saluting the crowds at Curva Nord with Olympia in his hand.
Bernabé is employed by an outside company rather than Lazio.
But a video going viral on social media showed Handler imitating the gesture with his right hand while holding the bird in front of fans after Saturday’s win over Inter Milan.
He also chanted ‘Deuce, Deuce’, which was the nickname of former Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.
And on Wednesday the Serie A side took disciplinary action against Bernabé.
Lazio said in a statement: “After learning of the existence of the video, which shows Juan Bernabé behaving in a way that degrades the club, the fans and the values that the community aspires to, the company has Action has been taken for the immediate suspension of the person concerned with the service and for the possible termination of existing contracts.”
Fans of Biancocelesti have a troubled history of racism and fascism and the club has long tried to crack down on the problem.
The club said in a statement that it had sent a letter to all its suppliers last week reminding them of the code of conduct.
Political extremism and racist abuse are an issue for Serie A, where many black players have faced blatant humiliation during matches.
Following several incidents of racism earlier this season, Italian Football Federation (FIGC) president Gabriele Gravina has said that racist fans should be identified and banned from stadiums for life.
And this latest incident with the Bernabé sparked outrage among Italian Jewish communities.
Noemi di Segni, president of the Association of Italian Jewish Communities, urged the FIGC to kick the fascists out of the sport to avoid their hatred of the country’s ‘pitch to every square’.
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