Naples’ soccer fans banned from going to away games
September 4, 2008
NAPLES, Italy — Score another black eye for Naples.
The city already marred by a bad reputation brought on by trash crises, mob killings, high petty crime and erratic driving now endures more ill repute because of soccer hooligans.
Italy’s Interior Minister, Roberto Maroni, banned Naples fans from traveling to away games for the soccer season, and officials said they could close the San Paolo stadium to fans for home games if they suspect there might be trouble.
"I’m seriously P.O.’d," said Joshua Jones, 37, a season ticket-holder and American. "I paid 385 euros for season tickets for the 19 home games, and the next home game is supposed to be Sept. 14, and a crucial match against Fiorentina," said the senior fire protection officer for Naval Facilities Engineering Command Europe and Southwest Asia, based in Naples.
Following Maroni’s ban for away games, officials announced home games could be played in "closed stadiums." The games go on, but the fans are barred from watching it live in the stadium.
On Sunday, unruly, nonpaying fans reportedly boarded a train for the nation’s capital for the Napoli’s Series A opener against AS Roma. The fans slashed train seats, broke windows, and set off fireworks in the train, causing some $500,000 in damage. Four railway workers were injured in the melee, according to several accounts in Italian media. But authorities, citing "civil protection," let the train leave the station, and the trouble traveled to Rome.
Wednesday, Italy’s police chief, Antonio Manganelli, linked the weekend’s chaos to the Naples mafia, the Camorra, according to ANSA news agency.
In 2007, authorities closed games to the public after a police officer was killed during a riot in Catania, Sicily. Authorities have enacted some anti-hooligan measures, such as requiring tickets to be purchased with proof of identification, placing metal detectors in some stadiums, and banning the sale of alcohol.