Soccer-Lazio defend new arrival Hysaj over initiation song

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ROME (Reuters) - Serie A club Lazio came to the defence of new signing Elseid Hysaj on Monday after he sang left-wing anthem "Bella Ciao" during his initiation ceremony at the weekend.

The song was adopted as an anthem by the Italian Resistance Movement, who opposed Nazi Germany forces occupying Italy and later fought Italian Fascists during the Second World War, and became synonymous with resistance movements the world over.

It has since risen to prominence after featuring prominently in the Netflix series Money Heist (Casa de Papel).

Hysaj's performance angered a minority of hard-core Lazio fans, known as 'ultras', who have links to the far right and a history of racist behaviour.

Local media reports said a group of fans tried to confront the 27-year-old Hysaj at the club's pre-season training camp in Auronzo Di Cadore on Sunday.

The Albania international signed for the Rome outfit from Napoli on a free transfer to link up with former coach Maurizio Sarri, who took over from Simone Inzaghi last month.

“It is a club's job to protect their player and remove him from situations where he is being used for personal and political gain,” Lazio said in a statement.

"In this case this certainly had nothing to do with the informal and friendly context of what happened.

"The training camp must continue in the climate of calm that we enjoyed up until today."

($1 = 0.8477 euros)

(Reporting by Joseph Walker; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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