Juventus star Alessandro del Piero is reportedly suing Facebook over a fake profile bearing his name that links to Nazi propaganda sites.
The 34-year-old World Cup-winning Italian footballer is aggrieved that the bogus account, which carries his picture, implies neo-Nazi sympathies. Del Piero states he's never had a Facebook profile.
The striker's agent and brother, Stefano del Piero, has said Del Piero intends to use his lawyers to protect his image. Supposed links to the far right would hurt Del Piero's career once he leaves football.
A quick search of Facebook reveals several profiles in the name Alessandro del Piero, some based in Italy. Whether the offending profile has been removed remains unclear.
Fascist leanings among hardcore Italian football fans (Ultras) have a long and inglorious history. Rome's
Nazio Lazio and Inter Milan are the most obvious examples but these days the supporter base of most clubs leans towards the far right, with the single top-flight exception of Bologna.
Former Lazio player Paulo di Canio is infamous for making a fascist salute towards the team's supporters and defending Mussolini.
Fake profiles on social networking websites are becoming a bigger problem, with numerous incidents of abuse on sites such as Facebook and Twitter over recent months, and no signs of anything approaching a strategy to combat the problem. ®