England fans to be bussed to stadium ahead of Italy Euros qualifier in huge security operation after yob mayhem fears
A HUGE security operation was launched to shield 2,500 England fans amid fears of yob mayhem before tonight’s World Cup qualifier in Naples.
Fans have been asked to gather at the crime-plagued city’s port area to be ferried on 23 buses to the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium tonight to avoid Napoli’s notorious Ultra gangs.
But authorities fear breakaway groups – including West Ham yobs teamed with Napoli’s hated rivals Lazio – are planning a showdown.
Large groups of England fans were visible in bars and cafes but stayed low key with the majority wearing no team colours and there were no early reports of trouble.
But they were being eyed by groups of local youth as they drank beer in pavement cafes before the kick off at 8.45pm local time.
And police reinforcements have been drafted in to protect Three Lions followers at potential flashpoints along routes to the match at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium.
Tonight’s game will be England’s first since the Qatar World Cup and the first competitive clash with Italy since our heartbreaking penalties defeat at the Euro 2020 Final.
Fans were urged to gather in the port area of the tough southern city to board a fleet of buses at 4pm to avoid Ultra ambushes.
But early signs suggested many fans would shun the protected route and stay within the warren of streets in the city centre until closer to kick-off.
Police securing the “high risk” fixture asked England fans not to wear belts at the game amid fears that they – like local yobs – could use them as weapons.
An alcohol ban was also put in place from 7am – midnight on the day of the match around the stadium and from midday in the city centre.
But many bar owners appeared to be ignoring police instructions with travelling fans seen quaffing beer long after the lunchtime deadline in the city.
Tension simmered amid fears of yob violence led by “twinned” hooligan firms, as reported in Sun Online yesterday.
Sources in Rome reported English West Ham thugs had arrived in the Italian capital and had joined “Ultra” comrades from the city’s Lazio club.
Police and security forces were said to be on “maximum alert” amid reports the teamed-up troublemakers were heading 140 miles north east to Naples.
Hammers hoolies and Lazio Ultras were planning to ambush fans of Lazio’s hated rivals Napoli ahead of the England game, it was claimed.
Corriere dello Sport, Italy’s leading sport paper, reported sweaters bearing West Ham logos were seen on Sunday when violence erupted at Lazio’s derby game against Roma.
It could not be verified that the wearer of the Hammers shirts were English – but the paper reported authorities were taking the threat of further coordinated violence in Naples seriously.
Only last week, 470 Eintracht Frankfurt ultra fans – who had been banned from Naples’ Diego Armando Maradona Stadium for a Champion League match against Napoli – ran riot.
Cars were set on fire and cops pelted with missiles as they struggled to separate the Germans from 300 Napoli Ultras, who also turned on security forces.
In September 2019, two Liverpool fans were hurt by flying bottles hurled by Napoli yobs – who are famed for cowardly “calling card” knife attack to their victims’ buttocks.
But Italy’s soccer federation decided to stage the Three Lions’ crucial World Cup qualifier in Naples – their first match since the Qatar World Cup – despite security concerns.
And around 2,500 England fans are due to begin arriving in Naples today ahead of the big game.
West Ham yobs’ were allegedly involve in trouble before the Lazio v Roma game on Sunday, Il Napolista reports
Lazio’s feared Ultras were also reported to have been joined by other “twinned” yobs from across Europe who connect using social media and the dark web.
Levski Sofia in Bulgaria and Real Madrid have ties with Lazio while Roma were said to be backed by foreign legions from Dinamo Zagreb and Atletico Madrid.
Security concerns rose after a “friendly” football match between England and Italy supporters was axed on Monday after notorious Naples hooligans warned they would launch an attack.
Italian “Ultra” yobs emailed the England fans’ team boss warning 60 soccer savages would “get them” – forcing the game to be called off.
Garford Beck, the boss of England men’s supporters’ team, said the “threatening” email he received read: “You advertise this game for us to see where you’ll be – we will be there.
“60 ultra to get you. Be warned.”
Mr Beck said he asked his Italian counterpart to show the email to Italian authorities and the game was called off after security chiefs responded: “We are very concerned.”
The Italian Football Federation has now informed Mr Beck the game has been cancelled after leas from the English FA.
Mr Beck said: “They are treating it very seriously and have judged it to be a viable threat. Safety has to be our priority and we would have been an easy target for these people.
“They normally come tooled up to the hilt so it could have been a very nasty situation had I not opened that email.”
Mr Beck said England fans had played their Italian counterparts in Milan in September last year – to coincide with a Nations League game – without any issues.
He said: “There’s been no hint of anything until I opened that email.
“We’re just out there to get together with whoever it is we’re playing, have a game of football, have a few beers and go off to the match, it’s nothing more than that really.”
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