The great-grandson of fascist dictator Benito Mussolini has signed for Lazio – the Italian football club whose neo-fascist fans idolise 'Il Duce' and traditionally give stiff-arm salutes.
Romano Floriani Mussolini, 18, is turning out for the Rome team’s youth side as a defender.
The club’s youth academy coach Mauro Bianchessi, said he had worked with Mussolini for two years.
He added: “Now the fruits of that hard work are paying off.”
Young Mussolini is playing for Lazio while he continues his education at an English language private school.
His mum Alessandra, a former right-wing MP who has expressed pride in her grandad, declined to comment on the significance of a Mussolini possibly playing in Italy’s top flight, saying that it was a topic she “would rather stay away from”.
However, the sight of her son’s name on the back of a Lazio shirt may delight the fans who hung a banner reading “Honour to Benito Mussolini” at a game in Milan in 2019, and gave fascist salutes near the piazza where the dictator’s corpse was strung up in 1945.
Ultra fans revere former West Ham legend Paolo Di Canio, the ex-Lazio player, who has a Mussolini tattoo and gave fascist salutes to fans.
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Emanuele Fiano, a Jewish MP who has fought neo-fascism, said he had no problem seeing young Mussolini play for Lazio. “I won’t judge a person on their surname,” he said.
Romano’s mother was among family members who demanded last year that taxpayers’ money be used to preserve the dictator’s tomb.
Lazio's first team sits sixth in Serie A after an impressive run of five successive wins, beating Fiorentina, Parma, local rivals Roma, Sassuolo and Atalanta.
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