The great-grandson of the Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini has signed a contract with Lazio, a club that has been persecuted by links with far-right groups through its hardcore fans.
Romano Floriani Mussolini was already part of the Roman club’s academy, who made two appearances in the youth team’s squad on match day, and will now work with the Serie A U18 squad.
The right-back’s official contract with Lazio will be a source of controversy, given the club’s previous connections with far-right fascist groups and his great-grandfather’s extreme political history.
Romano Floriani Mussolini, pictured with his mother Alessandra, has signed a contract with Lazio
Romano Mussolini is a promising right-back and will join the club’s U18 squad
Benito Mussolini was Italy’s dictator during World War II and ruled from 1922 to 1943. At the end of the war he allied himself with Nazi Germany and Japan against Great Britain, France and the United States and led conflicts in Europe and Africa from attempting to flee the nation, only to be hunted and executed.
His policies included promoting the superiority of the Italian race, xenophobia and imperialism, and his personality cult saw him referred to as “Il Duce” (The Leader).
However, the 18-year-old’s mother, Alessandra, a former MEP for a far-right party, declined to be included in the signing’s politics, insisting that Romano’s focus was on his football career rather than political issues.
“I have nothing to comment,” she told the Adnkronos press agency. “It’s something I prefer to stay away from. My son doesn’t want to interfere in his private life or his decisions. ‘
Romano is seen as a promising prospect for the club, which he joined after completing his studies at an English school in Rome. His youth coach Mauro Bianchessi claims his rise had nothing to do with his infamous surname, which line with his dedication to improving as a footballer.
Romano is the great-grandson of the war-time Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini
After working with him for over two years, the fruits of this hard work are now paying off, ”Binachessi told Il Messaggero.
“He’s a humble boy who has never complained even if he hasn’t played in two years,” he also told Repubblica. ‘I like him. He’s not a seasoned player yet, but looks promising.
‘That annoying last name? I’ve never spoken to their parents before and the only thing that matters is whether a player deserves to play. Nothing else. ‘
However, there are concerns that the Mussolini name on Lazio’s shirt would encourage far-right elements of the club’s fan base who have got them into trouble with authorities in recent years.
Lazio players were warmed up in jerseys and read ‘No to all anti-Semitism’ after fans previously sparked controversy by staining the floor with Anne Frank on a Roma shirt sticker
In 2018, Lazio was fined € 50,000 by the Italian Football Association after fans littered the club’s home ground at Stadio Olimpico with stickers from Anne Frank, the young Jewish diarist who was murdered in the Holocaust, rival Roma.
Lazio argued it took all reasonable steps to prevent the incident and it was only a small number of fans who carried it off. In their next game, the first team warmed up in jerseys with a picture of Anne Frank and the words “No to anti-Semitism”.
Previously, the club was at the center of yet another political storm in 2005 when striker Paolo Di Canio was fined € 10,000 by the Italian football league for fascistically greeting fans during a derby win against rival Roma.
Di Canio had claimed the straight arm gesture was a misrepresentation of a cameraman, but the League Disciplinary Committee claimed the gesture “immediately and clearly recalled a precise political ideology”.
Former striker Paolo Di Canio was fined for a fascist salute to Lazio supporters, notorious for their links to the right, during a derby win over rivals Roma in 2005
Romano also shares his name with his maternal grandfather. Romano Mussolini was Benito Mussolini’s fourth son and pianist, painter and film producer. In 1962 he married Maria Scicolone, the younger sister of actress Sophia Loren.
His daughter Alessandra Mussolini, the mother of Romano Floriani Mussolini, led the right-wing extremist party Alternativa Sociale. Romano Mussolini composed the party’s official anthem, “The Pride of Being Italian”.