Frankfurt ultras riots: political implications in Naples

BThere is no other topic in which the Italian press tends to use metaphors more than football, both in relation to a sporting event and to everything that surrounds it. After the frenzy of ultras from Eintracht Frankfurt and SSK Naples on Wednesday, the front pages of daily and sports newspapers offered everything from “guerrilla warfare” to “wounded city”, from “state of siege” to “barbarian invasion”.

At a joint press conference on Thursday morning, Mayor Gaetano Manfredi, Prefect Claudio Palomba and SSC Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis tried to be a little more objective. At that time, the urban cleaning of Naples had long been in vogue. By noon, most traces of the disturbance had disappeared. Mayor Manfredi called the destruction in the old city “unacceptable” and demanded that all those involved in the riots be held accountable, from whatever side they may be. Prefect Palomba defended the tactic of deploying security forces that escorted and watched a compact block of hundreds of Frankfurt fans during their “walk” through the old city before the game.

At first everything was peaceful, only later the situation got out of hand, because ultras from both sides attacked each other in small groups, Palomba said. Club President De Laurentiis recalled that there was no peace at the Diego Maradona stadium either, the riots took place far from the Fuorigrotta area, where the stadium is located. Right-wing Prime Minister Georgia Meloni urged De Laurentiis to emulate former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher: The Iron Lady even knew how to put the island’s notorious hooligans in their place.

Left-wing media and opposition representatives accused Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi of not preventing the riots with his statement. The right-wing nationalist League party, which is part of the center-right coalition led by Meloni, demanded that the German government compensate for the damage caused. German Ambassador Viktor Elbling and Naples Mayor Manfredi tried to smooth over the political waves on the spot on Wednesday. At the Palazzo San Giacomo, the town hall of the port city, they jointly affirmed “the friendship of our two countries”.

Meanwhile, the Italian and German ultras were celebrating their feud outside. The Frankfurters were supported by ultras from the friendly club Atalanta Bergamo from Lombardy, who, in turn, are the enemies of the Naples fans. In general, transnational unions of ultras have been formed over the years, in which loyalty to the respective home club is much more important than the imaginary loyalty of the nation.

Who is to blame for the riots?

Six police officers were injured during the riots, especially after the game, according to authorities. Five ultras from Naples and three from Frankfurt were arrested late in the evening and early in the morning on the Lungomare promenade and in Piazza del Gesù in the old town. Before Frankfurters who traveled to Naples could go home despite a ban on ticket sales to the visiting team a few days ago, the authorities took them by bus to the police headquarters in Salerno and Frosinone on Thursday morning to record their personal details. The Neapolitan ultras again attacked the Frankfurters in their buses with stones and sticks.

Which side and which decision makers are primarily responsible for the declared riots will long be a subject of debate. According to media reports, the escalation was caused on Wednesday afternoon by attacks by Naples ultras on Frankfurters, who then opened fire with firecrackers. Most observers also blamed the Neapolitan ultras for the late-night skirmishes near the Royal Continental Hotel, where the Frankfurters were quartered, because they tightened their “ring of siege” around the hotel.

Source: Frantfurter Allgemeine

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