The Naples-based Camorra crime syndicate may be contributing to soccer violence in Italy, Interior Minister Roberto Maroni said on Wednesday.
The opening weekend of the Serie A season earlier this month was marred when Napoli fans caused a riot on a train to Rome. A group of several hundred Napoli supporters launched firecrackers, broke windows, slashed seats open and caused euro500,000 (US$730,000) worth of damage to the train. At least four railway workers were injured.
More violence erupted when the train reached the capital for the AS Roma-Napoli game, which ended 1-1.
Maroni said that of the 3,096 Napoli fans who purchased a ticket for the Roma game, 27 of them had links to the Camorra. "The presence of such a large number of people accustomed to criminal conduct, in particular those belonging to or linked to Camorra clans, constitutes an extra risk factor for more violence at football matches," Maroni said, according to the Apcom news agency. On Monday, a sports judge ordered parts of San Paolo stadium in Naples closed until next month, shutting down where hardcore Napoli fans usually sit. Napoli fans have also been barred from away games for the rest of the season.
Also, Maroni announced that the government would start a commercial campaign against soccer violence, broadcasting spots on TV and on stadium jumbo screens and posting ads on team Web sites.