The great-grandson of Italy’s fascist dictator Benito Mussolini has signed for Lazio – a club followed by a section of supporters who are notorious for salutes and racist chants at matches.
Romano Floriani Mussolini, 18, is expected to mostly appear as a right-back in the Italian club’s youth team.
The footballer, whose second name is Benito, has already made two appearances – but his association with a club which historically has some fans with links to the far-right is expected to cause controversy.
Mauro Bianchessi, the manager of the Rome club’s youth team, said he had not spoken to the player’s parents about the “burdensome surname”, preferring to concentrate on what the teenager does on the pitch.
He told the Repubblica newspaper: “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. He’s a humble boy who’s never complained.”
The player’s mother, Alessandra Mussolini, is a former European parliamentarian and said she had “nothing to comment on” when asked about her son.
She told the Adnkronos news agency: “It’s something I prefer to stay out of. It does not concern me. My son wants no sort of meddling in his private life or choices.”
The teenage defender is currently completing his last year at the St George British School in Rome.
His great-grandfather was the prime minister of Italy from 1922 until 1943 following a fascist coup.
Lazio are in the top tier of Italian football, Serie A, and are one of the biggest and most supported clubs in the country.
Some of the controversy caused by their fans has included fascist chants and the unfurling of banners displaying controversial slogans and symbols.
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