Chaos in Naples: Rival fans clashed with riot police ahead of Napoli-Frankfurt Champions League fixture

Supporters of the Eintracht Frankfurt soccer team clash with police in Naples, southern Italy, Wednesday, March 15, 2023 (AP Photo/Salvatore Laporta)
By Thomas Brooke
3 Min Read

Italian authorities made eight arrests in Naples ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League fixture between Eintracht Frankfurt and Napoli, as rival groups of fans clashed with each other, torched vehicles, and attacked riot police in the city center.

Fans of Eintracht Frankfurt had been told ahead of time not to attend the game, as they would be refused entry to the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona due to security concerns; however, a large group of fans from the German club traveled to Naples anyway and marched through the city.

Footage circulating on social media shows the extent of the damage caused as riot police stepped in to disperse crowds and break up clashes between rival sets of fans.

Masked supporters could be seen throwing projectiles including chairs and fireworks at riot police, while water canons were deployed to extinguish fires from burning vehicles. One rioter was even photographed in possession of a firearm.

At least two police vehicles were damaged in the chaos, and trash cans were overturned and set on fire as local residents ran for cover.

Italian media reported how a group of Napoli supporters had thrown stones and bottles at buses carrying fans of the German club, smashing a window and sparking a ferocious response.

Naples Mayor Gaetano Manfredi called the damage wreaked by the German fans “crazy and unacceptable.”

“These are not fans, they are criminals. Who knows if in Germany they would make the same mess,” tweeted Matteo Salvini, leader of the conservative League party. “Maximum solidarity with and support to the police forces,” he added.

Italian police, however, confirmed that of the eight arrests made, five were Napoli supporters and three were from Frankfurt.

The decision by Italian authorities to ban supporters from the stadium had been criticized in the lead-up to the knockout clash in Europe’s flagship football tournament, not least by UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin, who said it was “absolutely wrong.”

“We have to say ‘if something like this happens, then the clubs won’t play there.’ It’s simple, we’ll change the rules,” he told German TV on Tuesday.

Napoli won the game 3-0, after a 2-0 win in Frankfurt, putting it at 5-0 over the two legs and on its way to the next knockout stage.

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