Saturday August 2 2014
Napoli remember Ciro Esposito

Napoli presented their squad at the San Paolo with the mother of shot fan Ciro Esposito, who called for this to “never happen again.”

The Partenopei play against PAOK tonight in their traditional pre-season test, but there was a special atmosphere ahead of the game.

Their campaign ended in May with victory in the Coppa Italia, marred by the shooting of a fan by a drunk Roma ultra while he was walking towards the Stadio Olimpico.

Esposito died over a month later in hospital and his mother, Antonella Leardi, is spearheading a campaign to end violence in football.

“Ciro is the example of genuine football fans and represents all the supporters in Italy,” she told the crowd at the San Paolo.

“I thank you for being here and also Aurelio De Laurentiis for putting the ticket sales from tonight’s game towards a project we will build in the Scampia district, one Ciro loved and that represents Neapolitans.

“People try to throw mud at us, but we will become an example to all of Italy. I hope this is the first step in a long-running project, starting from schools, to ensure what happened to Ciro must never happen again.

“You live for football, you cannot die for it. Those who forget his name just kill him all over again.”

Scampia is one of the poorest neighbourhoods in the entire country and famously a recruiting ground for the Camorra – the Neapolitan version of the Mafia.

President De Laurentiis also took the microphone in the stadium.

“Ciro’s mother had this idea of creating a movement in Scampia that can be helpful, in Ciro’s name, for those Neapolitans who want to separate themselves from violent situations that bring Naples and its people down in the eyes of Italians.

“We know that we are second to nobody. Enough violence, we want healthy sport, made of values that represent all Italians.

“This is why Antonella is Ciro’s mother, but also the mother of all Italians. To ensure Ciro’s name lives on in eternity, we will dedicate a section of the stands to Ciro.”

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