Eintracht Frankfurt fans violently clash with police ahead of match against Naples
NAPLES – On Wednesday afternoon Eintracht Frankfurt fans clashed with Naples police ahead of the German club’s Champions League match, throwing firecrackers and setting police cars on fire, according to Neapolitan officials.
Starting in the morning, the Eintracht fans moved in a procession from their hotel to the seafront and then to the city centre. After a day of tension and police attempts to separate the home fans from the 500 Eintracht ultras who had come to Naples despite the ban on attending the return match of the Champions League round of 16, the clashes began around 4.30 p.m.
Fans threw firecrackers, smoke bombs, and smashed bar tables and chairs whilst police in riot gear tried in vain to disperse the fanbases using tear gas. The clashes culminated in a police car, amongst other vehicles, being set on fire. To support the German fans, some Atalanta supporters, with whom they are twinned, also arrived.
Around 5.30 p.m. the Eintracht fans were then loaded onto buses and escorted to their hotel in Via Caracciolo where they will most likely be identified. On the way, some fringe Neapolitan fans tried a new attempt at aggression by throwing stones and other objects at the vehicles.
Police presence had already been heavy in the city prior to the clashes due to the violence which took place between the fanbases in Frankfurt during the first leg. Precisely because of that violence, the prefecture ordered a ban on the sale of tickets for all German citizens, but the Regional Administrative Court annulled the measure, deeming it lacking in justification.
The prefecture then once again had to take action with an ban concerning only Frankfurt residents. Nonetheless, the Eintracht fans decided to leave for Naples, despite the fact that they were barred from watching the match live.
“The scenes of devastation in the city centre are unacceptable. We strongly condemn the unspeakable acts of those who perpetrated this violence, from whatever side they came. Naples and the Neapolitans do not deserve to suffer the serious material, moral and image damage that this madness has caused,” said Naples Mayor Gaetano Manfredi, who also met with German Ambassador to Italy Viktor Elbling.
Tension had already risen on Tuesday night: during the bus transport to the hotel, a group of Neapolitans threw stones at the Germans' coach, while a dozen Germans staged a raid on a bar in Piazza Bellini, which was closed at the time.
Police intervention had prevented contact between the fans on several occasions that evening – even preventing a group of around 150 Neapolitan fans from reaching the hotel hosting the German fans.
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