The great-grandson of Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini has officially joined the under-19 soccer team of Italy’s S.S. Lazio professional sports club, according to reports.
Romano Floriani Mussolini, the 18-year-old son of Italian politician Alessandra Mussolini who served as a member of the European Parliament, plays in the right full-back position for the youth team, The Guardian reported.
Despite carrying the Mussolini surname, Romano reportedly has no interest in politics.
“I have nothing to comment on”, his mother told Italian news agency Adnkronos, according to The Guardian. “It’s something I prefer to stay out of. My son wants no sort of meddling in his private life or choices.”
The teen is currently completing his final year at the St. George’s British International School in Rome.
Rome newspaper Il Messaggero suggested that Romano’s “cumbersome” surname could be problematic for the soccer club, which has long been stereotyped as right-wing, according to the Wanted in Rome magazine.
In reporting on the news, Italian daily newspaper il Fatto Quotidiano wrote, “For S.S. Lazio, the name Mussolini is a heavy burden to bear,” according to The Guardian.
“The northern section of Rome’s Olympic Stadium (known as the curva nord, the area traditionally occupied by S.S. Lazio fans), with its fascist salutes and racist chants, is wasting no time to assert its fascist character. It’s just a matter of time before someone starts exalting the Duce,” the newspaper wrote.
Mauro Bianchessi, the manager of S.S. Lazio’s youth team, told local media that Romano is a “humble boy.”
“He’s a humble boy who’s never complained, not even when he didn’t play for two years,” said Bianchessi, The Guardian reported. “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.”