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Salvini poses with soccer players

Italian League leader poses with footballers for greater unity

On Thursday night, Italian League leader Matteo Salvini met with Napoli football players Lorenzo Insigne and José Callejon to apologise for past statements against Neapolitans, Italian news agency ANSA reported.

Published: December 3, 2017, 9:16 pm

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    Rome

    The formerly secessionist leader Salvini has dropped the name Northern from his League as he bids to win southern support ahead of next year’s general election.

    “Long live beautiful soccer!” tweeted the anti-euro, anti-migrant leader after the meeting at the hotel near Naples they happened to be sharing, which also included Napoli Vice President Edoardo De Laurentiis.

    Napoli said after a storm of criticism from fans Friday that it had not accepted Salvini’s apology, but “we listened to him willingly”.

    One fan was outraged that Napoli should agree to meet Salvini, who “has for years been calling us cholera-struck and terroni,” a pejorative term for a southerner.

    Northern Italian fans regularly taunt Napoli fans with pejorative chants.

    Salvini posed with the soccer players, after criticism that he might invite a possible return of fascism in Italy.

    During an interview on Sky Tg24, Salvini responded to Umberto Bossi who had invited the League not to seek votes from the ultra-skinheads: “I’m not looking for those votes,” Salvini said.

    “I am always against violence, of any political colour, but it is incredible that there are newspapers in Italy that are worried about the return of fascism or communism. Is someone at home really thinking that we can go back to that historical period? I think the press talks about these issues to hide the real problems of Italy, which are children who are not born here and companies that close down.”

    Salvini reminded the audience that a “planned invasion of our country” is under way: an attempt to replace our workers with desperate ethnic groups.” He added: “And anyone who helps me block this attempt at ethnic replacement is welcome.”

    Salvini continued: “Real life is that which is seeing an impoverishment of Italians and an arrival of a mass of nothing but delinquents that did not flee from war but bringing war with them.”

    In light of these considerations, Salvini repeated that the law regarding Ius soli was a “useless and wrong law that does not help anyone, if not to the left to pick up a few thousand of votes”.

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