England fans in Naples urged caution after 'sinister' threats from Italian Ultras
England fans in Naples for Thursday’s Euro 2024 qualifier are being urged to travel on official coaches as part of a security operation that has already forced the cancellation of a friendly match between fans.
Violence broke out in the city last week when Serie A leaders Napoli played Eintracht Frankfurt in the Champions League and a threatening email purporting to be from Italian Ultras warned the England supporters’ team not to go ahead with a match against their Italian counterparts.
The warning, which was described as “very sinister” by England supporters’ team manager Garford Beck, was forwarded to the Italian authorities, who ruled that the threat was credible.
The email said “be warned…we will be there, 60 ultra to get you” if England and Italy fans went ahead with the friendly, due to take place on Thursday afternoon ahead of the full senior international.
The Italian authorities have now also told fans not to independently make their way to the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium, with coaches being laid on for the 2,500 ticket holders from the England Supporters’ Travel Club.
The coaches are free and the Football Association, in consultation with the Football Supporters’ Association’s Embassy team, are also in talks over arranging a similar service for fans after the match, which kicks off at 8.45pm local time.
“To assist with the safety and security of all England travelling supporters the Italian Police have requested and are strongly advising, that England supporters use locally organised coach transport to travel to the stadium,” read an FA statement.
English police will also be in Naples to assist the local authorities and, in their communication to fans, the FA emphasised the need to “represent England in the right way whilst out in Naples”.
Although Italian national team games attract a different fan base to those of Napoli, security concerns have been heightened following the shameful scenes in the city last week. Eintracht supporters were banned but some still travelled to Naples and there were violent clashes with riot police and local fans.
Eight people were arrested. England’s preparations were also hit yesterday by the withdrawals of Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford, Chelsea midfielder Mason Mount and Newcastle United goalkeeper Nick Pope.
Rashford was hurt during United’s FA Cup win against Fulham on Sunday while Mount has not fully recovered from a pre-existing injury to his pubic bone.
Pope suffered his injury in Newcastle’s 2-1 win at Nottingham Forest on Friday evening. Tottenham keeper Fraser Forster, 35, has been called up to replace Pope. England begin their Euro 2024 campaign in Italy before hosting Ukraine at Wembley on Sunday.