British Fans In Trouble Again in NapoliPeter Houghton
As we have been aware for many years, British football fans are maligned everywhere they travel in Europe. We hear regular stories of Spanish police wading into situations that don’t exist to more or less make them exist. We hear of the “scooter boys” of Roma sticking knives into people as they simply walk to the match.
It appears that if British fans step out of line in any way, and sometimes if they don’t step out of line, punishment is never far away. On the other hand, our overseas brethren seem to be able to do whatever they want in terms of abusing our fans and racially abusing our footballers as the Hotballers of Nyon look the other way.
Liverpool fans were once again the subjects of an attack in the City of Naples last night where at least one supporter needed treatment in an ambulance after being attacked in a bar in Naples, where “scooter boys” swinging heavily-buckled belts never seem to be too far away.
It’s fair to say that the Napoli cops try to do a reasonable job in protecting away fans at UEFA Champions League matches. Behind the visitors section is a stretch of road that is steel-shielded off to provide a safe space to park coaches and to enable fans to approach the turnstiles untroubled. But the same cannot be said in the City itself.
As you walk around the City, which is a beautiful place, there is the smell of danger. You can feel people watching your movements, sizing up a mugging opportunity or worse. Group of youths fall in behind you and follow you, if for no other reason, you don’t look Italian.
I went there with Manchester City once. When I stepped out of our fantastic hotel overlooking an island with the Bay of Naples behind it, after about 800 metres I turned back as I didn’t feel safe.
Most visiting Clubs, and City were no exception ask fans to report to a specific place at a specific time to enable them to be transported safely to the stadium. You always get some who decide to make their own way on whatever public transport is available, or even walk. These are the “prey” the home ultras are looking for. On that particular visit a small group of City fans were set upon by a larger group of Napoli “fans” and given a beating. Quite why you would make your own way to the stadium in Napoli under this kind of threat I’m not sure, especially when there is a safer means of getting there.
Even getting the team there safely is a challenge. Napoli supporters are not daft. When the team bus leaves the hotel there is usually a police pilot in front, which takes the form of a minibus containing a police serial and a similar tail vehicle. You will see scooters, some containing up to 5 Napoli fans slotting in between the team bus and the pilots so that they get preferential treatment at the traffic lights all the way to the Stadio San Paolo. At times during this journey you genuinely fear for the safety of the players.
The Liverpool fans probably don’t get this and that is why some of them found themselves in difficulties last night. I heard Dom King of the Daily Mail saying on radio this morning that the away end looked far from full last night despite Liverpool having sold all their tickets and he believed that the safety uncertainty may have played a factor in this. Despite the exceptional meal we had in a restaurant along from the hotel, Napoli would not be on my re-visit list, not even on holiday!