September 17, (THEWILL) – The violent nature of some football fans came to the fore again on Thursday night after a dozen arrests were made following clashes between fans of English Premier League side Leicester and Serie A team Napoli and the police after their UEFA Europa League tie at the King Power Stadium ended in a deadlock.
UEFA allowed away fans to games across the continent ahead of the new season after previously disallowing it to check international travel and the risks of pandemic migration and to respect health and safety protocols of participating countries of UEFA-organised football matches.
As a result of the relaxation of the ban, Napoli fans who travelled to Leicester for the fixture got their money’s worth as they were entertained by a pulsating edge-of-the-couch, end-to-end game where their side needed to fight back from a two-goal deficit to return home with a point thanks to a second-half brace from Nigerian forward Victor Osimhen.
Yet, the beauty of the game was soiled by fan misbehaviour, which started after the final whistle and the sense of disappointment that comes from the expectation of a win.
Tensions between the two sets of supporters began when Leicester’s Patson Daka was denied a maiden Foxes goal due to a marginal offside call. Things exacerbated with the sending off of Super Eagles midfielder Wilfred Ndidi, which the fans deemed harsh.
After the final whistle, in a situation wildly reminiscent of the Euro 2020 final, unsavoury scenes erupted with the Napoli fans in attendance clashing with police who had formed a cordon to separate them from the home supporters.
Napoli ultras attempted to breach the separation line with both sets of supporters throwing missiles at each other. A voice message was piped through the stadium’s public address system, asking fans to “respect your club” and “move away from the segregation line”.
After order was eventually restored and the stadium emptied of movement, a heavy police presence remained in the city from an overabundance of caution to ensure calm remained.
The Leicestershire Police issued a statement about the situation. It read: “All the excitement for Europe spoilt once again by the minority. CCTV will be viewed and those responsible will be held to account. Behaviour by some was a disgrace. Well done and thank you to those who didn’t get involved. Twelve arrests so far and counting.”
Already, footage has emerged of Napoli fans involved in scuffles outside De Montfort University. Yet, it will not be their first as, in 2019 ahead of the UCL clash against Liverpool, four Napoli fans were arrested outside Anfield on suspicion of violent disorder, while another supporter was detained on suspicion of affray.
The return fixture in Naples is scheduled to take place on Thursday, 9 December. However, it remains to be seen how many Leicester fans will be permitted to travel.