Italian Soccer Team Adopts Hizbullah Logo to boost "Fighting Spirit"
30 December 2007
Italian football team adopts Hizbullah logo
We chose this name because we were influenced by the strong fighting spirit, and by the spirit of resistance.
Davide Volponi, Italian soccer player
Voice of reporters: Yes, this is the Hizbullah logo. But what is it doing on the jerseys of these players? The Italian soccer player Davide Volponi knows the answer. Volponi and his friends form a soccer team, which for 15 years has been participating in the Carioca amateur league. The team changes its name every year. In an attempt to boost the morale of his comrades, Volponi suggested naming the team "Zassbollah" this year – combining the name of the team captain, Zasso, with the word "Hizbullah." Where did this idea come from, and what is its purpose?
Davide Volponi, on the phone: The idea to name the team "Zassbollah" came from the situation in Lebanon. We chose this name not as an expression of any political position, but because we were influenced by the strong fighting spirit, and by the spirit of resistance. Therefore, this is not a political matter, because we observe things from afar, but on the field, we must put up resistance and fight the opponents.
Voice of reporter: The Zassbollah team was in need of this boost to their morale, because the rival team included international player Gianfranco Zola, who used to play on the Italian national team, and now coaches the Italian national youth team. Last Saturday at noon, at the Amiscora stadium in Sardinia, Italy – although in a different language and a different style - the Hizbullah resistance scored yet another goal into the net of those who doubt its morality, having become a source of inspiration for soccer players admired by millions throughout the world.
Source: Al-Manar TV transcript
Soccer team's Hezbollah-like logo riles critics
John Phillips, The Washington Times
ROME — An Italian soccer team has set off a furor by adopting the green assault rifle logo of the Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah on its players' shirts "so that we can frighten our adversaries."
Conservative critics said the action fits in with the center-left Italian government's policy of encouraging Middle Eastern radicals. They recalled the criticism faced by another team that tried to include the cross in its logo.
"Hezbollah is a war machine, but until now, we thought it was confined to Lebanon," the Milan daily Il Giornale said. "Wrong, now the Shi'ite guerrillas have made converts ... in a soccer club of Sardinia."
The newspaper reported that the Carioca amateur league team's decision to use the logo of the "Party of God" — an assault rifle in a green clenched fist — became public knowledge after Hezbollah's television station, Al Manar, praised the players in a dispatch picked up by the Washington-based Middle East Media Research Institute.
The team has changed its name frequently in its 15 years of existence on the rugged Italian island. This season it called itself "Zassbollah," a combination of Hezbollah and the family name of the team's captain, Luigi Zasso.
"In this way, we will be more frightening to our adversaries who will understand how we are ready to fight as you have against Israel," Il Giornale quoted team player Davide Volponi as telling Al Manar.
Mr. Volponi subsequently sought to play down the inspiration from Hezbollah, listed by the United States and several other countries as a terrorist organization because of its avowed aim of destroying Israel.
"Everything started in a spirit of fun that has been manipulated," he told the Italian news agency ANSA. "We were referring only to our state of 'fighting fitness' on the soccer pitch."
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