Sunday May 4 2014
A very Italian Final

Napoli’s Coppa Italia victory over Fiorentina showed the best and worst of Italian football, says Susy Campanale.

It’s rather ironic that days after Napoli released a formal statement lambasting Barry Glendenning’s Guardian column for making glib references to the city as a “mafia stronghold,” the same directors were negotiating with ultras to get the Coppa Italia Final started. Delayed for 45 minutes amid utter chaos because three fans had been shot, though police insist it was not related to the game. The head ultra who captain Marek Hamsik and the authorities were talking to? The son of a Camorra figure.

I got into this job to write about the beautiful game. I did not expect to be covering a Coppa Italia Final and updating on gunshot wounds. In Brazil this week a supporter was killed by a toilet bowl thrown from the stands, so perhaps we should count ourselves relatively lucky to only report on a near fatality. Whether or not the shooting was related to the match, and the police insist it wasn’t, the fact remains the world got to see Italian football at its worst. The ultras are in charge and authorities, players and directors must crawl to them for permission to go ahead. At the final whistle there’s a mass pitch invasion because stewards were warned beforehand not to try stopping them, as it would only result in trouble. It seems as if Italian authorities have only two levels of policing: brute indiscriminate violence or laissez-faire. No middle ground at all.

Yet the Final, that insane situation at the Stadio Olimpico, gave me hope for the future. The hope is Fiorentina. A decade ago they had notoriously the worst fans in Serie A, who considered everyone a bitter rival and made each away game an opportunity to get into a fight. Between the Della Valle brothers, Cesare Prandelli, Vincenzo Montella and also the uniting force of fighting back from Serie C2 to the top, the Viola ultras have become the positive example of a fanbase. Passionate, following the team in droves and waving their scarves in the air at the Olimpico after Napoli’s third goal ensured the trophy was out of reach, they showed the way forward. Even when the pitch invasion spread to beneath their Curva and Napoli fans started mocking them, the Fiorentina crowd did not react. Maybe there is hope. Now we just need every club to go bankrupt and come back up from the fourth division. That might help...

This Final showcased the bad of Italian football, but also the good and that was on the field. Napoli and Fiorentina played out an entertaining contest with great goals that kept everyone on the edge of their seat until that Dries Mertens strike. Lorenzo Insigne lived the dream, the only Neapolitan (and Italian) on the pitch for his team bagging an early brace, impressing Italy Coach Cesare Prandelli ahead of the World Cup selection. Giuseppe Rossi made his comeback after four months out and he too can hope for a ticket to Brazil. Without Mario Gomez or suspended star Juan Cuadrado, the Viola still put in a real fight and proved this team has plenty of quality at its disposal, even though Alessandro Matri is so bad that Montella would rather field Borja Valero as a centre-forward. Possession might be nine tenths of the law, but it’s only worth one tenth of a goal, so this team sorely needs a hitman.

Rafa Benitez insisted the Coppa result was irrelevant to how he’d view this debut season, but it’s clear to all the campaign would’ve been considered a failure without the trophy. Don Rafa did what he does best – win cup competitions with counter-attacks and struggle to maintain consistency throughout a League tournament. Ultimately that’s why he was hired, so Mission Accomplished.

Have your say...
awfull journorlism here, why was it neccesary to bring up the camora or genny's relation to one when it has no baring on the events? not to mention there were no negotiations but only dialogue, every peice written about this weekend points to putting neapolitans in a bad light and ignores the fact it was known roma fans who pulled the trigger not to mention fio fans joint with verona fans who ambushed napoli fans at a service station and also attacked napoli club bologna's bus.
on the 7th May, 2014 at 8:08pm
Susy, I don't always agree with you but when you get it right..You get it right. In this case it's 100%.
BTW The article before the Euro England game was one of your best.
To all of the others who are lambasting your piece, open your eyes and see what is happening. As DCP stated...We are in BIG trouble.
on the 5th May, 2014 at 4:14pm
(Cont) I still believe that we play the best brand of football, and we raise the best players in the planet. Italians actually get to play in the Serie A, which they are proud to do and helps the national talent unlike other leagues! However, that is it..... We have gone out of style to the world, we seem violent, and most our stadiums are simply embarrassing. Roma, Fiore, Napoli, should follow suit and build their stadiums.... Let's get people exited to go to our country and see our footy!
on the 5th May, 2014 at 1:40am
I love and have loved Serie A, all my life. Having said that, i have to say we are in BIG trouble.

This is idiotic, these stories in which a group of ultras can decide when a Cup Final starts is absolutely and utterly madness. Shows the fear that some owners, authorities have to apply the rules, and laws established. We have lost our way in Italy. Why do we throw rocks at the opponents Bus? What is the point in getting into a fight (or gun fight) if that means that you won't even see your..
on the 5th May, 2014 at 1:31am
But to get to a semi-final which they dominated over 2 legs and somehow couldn't score against the team ranked 6th in Europe, it's no huge disaster. Compare the spends of Italian teams to fortunes spent by the likes of Barca and Chelsea who won't win anything this year, and it doesn't look so bad for Italy. Note the emerging youth too which is now abundant unlike the PL which shows no growth for England. The World Cup will be a real reflection of the country's state...
on the 4th May, 2014 at 9:26pm
Usual idiotic and hysterical article by Susy.
Italy does need a clean-up but to imply that clubs have to negotiate with the Mafia is simply stupid. The pitch invasion was a heads-up...Napoli has very passionate fans that live and breathe football. The invasion was certainly not violent.
Re: league quality, please note that Napoli left the CL with 12 points which was more than most English and Spanish teams. Milan lost to the Finalists. Juve had a stuttered start and shouldn't have played in snow
on the 4th May, 2014 at 9:22pm
(Continued) I have been working in TV football production in England for the past 15 years and I have been to thousands of games ranging from non league to Premier and Internationals. And many of the stadiums in League 1 would embarrass Serie A. Many stadiums in the Championship beat anything in Italy in terms of safety, facilities, comfort, access and family friendly. (Exception being Juventus)
This is the way forward. Do it. Get the prawn cocktail brigade in.
on the 4th May, 2014 at 6:52pm
A real, real frustration and sense of hopelessness when yet another Italian football game is mired in violence and pitch invasion. Why can't the police, clubs and league do something?
I still think the answer lies in the stadiums. As Roy Keane famously lamented, it's the 'prawn cocktail brigade'. But they have the benefit of gentrifying the stadiums and attracting children and women. Plus the stewarding in England is exemplary.
on the 4th May, 2014 at 6:46pm
I enjoyed the match as much as a beaten Viola fan could, but the events beforehand embarrassed me particularly as I had - again - implored my EPL friends and colleagues to tune in as it was bound to be a great event.

Regardless of what a few people have said below, Susy's article sums up my thoughts towards the evening in a way I can't and that's why she's one of the best around.

I was in Firenze in 2002 when the club was decimated and I had been a fan long before... look at us now!
on the 4th May, 2014 at 5:40pm
Another good one Susy, thanks.
Who is an "ultra" anyway and why? A freak who has no idea of what the word "sport" means and in total disrespect of everyone else who might have a different opinion. In the same category as the banana throwers. We shouldn't even mention them to give the satisfaction of attention.
There are clear rules at stadiums. The vast majority are following them, why are we treating the troublemakers like they deserve something special ?
on the 4th May, 2014 at 3:30pm
It might be that the ultras have more power and I agree that it could create some trouble sometimes, but it's not like the complete opposite of Premier League would be that much better. Club owners, FA etc. out of control and the real fans are the ones loosing. Ask any diehard big club fan if they afford to go to the matches or if they feel they are appreciated at all? Owners treat the clubs like businesses, which they are of course in a way, but only for the money.
on the 4th May, 2014 at 12:17pm
What did you expect,playing this final at the Stadio Olimpico was an own goal by the idiotic and naive to think that there would be no trouble.!Napoli and Fiorentina mixed with bitter Roma losers what do you think?
on the 4th May, 2014 at 11:43am
the ultras are not helping, they support when it suits them and the oppose when the heat is up. owners, clubs, players and fans are all worried, they can't watch a proper football match without knowing that the ultras had some kind of influence on the game whether for the better or the worst. so what if this game the ultras decided not to agree with anything - would there then resulted in full chaos by both set of fans,and that no one , not even the authorities can do anything about it? not even the law can touch them in football? italy and the officials need to take a hard look at things and think for the future. england was full of hooligans in the past, now the stadiums are full and everybody just wants to support their club and go home safe. the ultras think they are doing a service to their clubs and fans..i think a lot of the people think otherwise.
on the 4th May, 2014 at 10:50am
@anonymous and Sica. What the hell world are you in. Susy only commented on what everyone could see and give us some insight on the situation involving Hamsik. I can’t for the life of me see how being supposedly Italian football fans you don’t recognise the truth. Yes it is good to hear positive articles and there are plenty on the site but like Pavarotti in a narrow corridor the truth cannot be ignored, Unlike you. I am not defending Napoli ultras as they do have a dark side at least some of them who started the fights on the bikeway under Duca d’Aosta bridge and but near the Ponte Milvio it was Roma ultras. The Napoli ultras do a real lot for charity
on the 4th May, 2014 at 9:14am
Susy, you have no idea what you are talking about and merely twisted that situation to suit an inferior type of journalistic response. It was so poor I cannot even be bothered to visit this site again.
on the 4th May, 2014 at 7:44am
I have to say, I was embarrassed for Italian football last night. Italian football needs a revolution and fast. Possibly a league name change, similar to what the English leagues did years ago. Families and not Ultras should be welcomed into stadiums. Marketing needs to attract new fans, travel links improved and pride in Italian football restored. The narrow vision that football is just for shaven headed men needs to be dropped like hot coal. It will be a hard road ahead, but necessary.
on the 4th May, 2014 at 7:36am
I got up at 5am (in Australia) to watch this and my heart sank when I saw Hamsik in the middle of those "fans".

It's a bizarre yet never dull league, Serie A, despite what some ignorant media people think.

Hopefully, the shot fans are ok. I'm not sure what can be done to slowly iradicate the ultras influence. They're hardly healthy for the game.

As for the game itself, it was great to watch. Fiorentina dominated for long spells but the missing trio of Rossi, Gomez and Cuadrado was a huge blow
on the 4th May, 2014 at 6:09am
Susy don't you realise Serie A has now declined to like 5th best league in Europe & its better you start writing articles exploring possible way forward rather than insulting the few feel-good stories of teams like Fiorentina, Napoli & Roma ?
on the 4th May, 2014 at 4:09am
I am so glad my Napoli won, however the trouble depicts the nature of the Roma supporters who caused the trouble out in the streets. I for won have experienced the discrimination the Roma people have towards us Neapolitans. Who do they really think they are?
on the 4th May, 2014 at 3:44am

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