Thursday October 27 2016
Volcanic Juventus-Napoli

Once a quietly simmering rivalry, Gaby McKay explains why tensions have erupted between Juventus and Napoli in recent years.

When Juventus face Napoli on Saturday night, one of the biggest games of the season will take place with no visiting supporters. Just like last time, the Partenopei will walk out at Juventus Stadium without any fans to back them. The same has been true for the Bianconeri’s last two trips to the San Paolo. Such is the hostility, it’s just not deemed safe.

Much of the enmity is rooted in social and sporting history, and in truth runs deeper one way than the other. The South of Italy was - and to an extent still is - very poor. Turin, an industrial hub and the seat of Italy’s royal family, stood in sharp contrast to Naples, a sprawling and chaotic city at the foot of Mount Vesuvius.

The Northern stereotype ran that the South was corrupt and backward. For Southerners, the North was aloof and cold, its prosperity draining the best and brightest toward Turin, Milan and Genoa. On the pitch, Napoli remain the only mainland club south of Rome to have won the Scudetto - 85 have gone to the aforementioned cities.

For the people of Campania, Napoli’s rise in the 1980s was as much about North v South as taking on Juventus. Consider the Bianconeri and the Partenopei’s greatest stars of that era. In the black and white corner, the Frenchman Michel Platini - middle class, graceful, languid. In light blue Diego Maradona, a fiery midfielder from the slums of Buenos Aires. El Pibe de Oro was brilliant, but as volatile as the mountain whose shadow he played in.

Napoli wrested the Scudetto from the Old Lady’s clutches in 1987, adding another three years later, but it was a temporary upset of the established order.

As the Partenopei collapsed slowly into bankruptcy, so the significance of this fixture dwindled for Juventini - there may have been disdain, but no-one could call it a rivalry. When the two renewed acquaintances in 2006, it was in Serie B, Juventus having been brought to their knees by Calciopoli.

As Italy’s most-hated club, demotion brought much mirth on the peninsula, but the Bianconeri won the division. Napoli went up behind them and - though no Neapolitan would ever admit it - there may even have been a grudging mutual respect, two fallen giants climbing back to the top table.

The heightened tensions we see today began in the 2011-12 season. Under Antonio Conte, Juve secured the Serie A title unbeaten, but the rivalry became a two-way street. The 2012 Coppa Italia Final was supposed to be a glorious send-off for Bianconeri legend Alessandro Del Piero, but Conte’s side were beaten by Napoli. Seeing their captain leading a dejected squad under the Curva was no way to say goodbye, and hurt more than most Juventini would care to admit.

The pair jousted for the Scudetto the following season, with a rock smashing the window of the Juve team bus as a tempestuous title race reached its peak at the San Paolo. The Bianconeri took the Scudetto in the end.

Last season ratcheted things up further still, with Napoli winter champions only to see Juventus take the Scudetto again. Indeed, the turning point was a 1-0 win in Turin, Simone Zaza’s deflected effort winning the game in the last minute in a match where Napoli were on top. It was just so…Juventus.

Still, the San Paolo faithful could take comfort in the fact they had Capocannoniere Gonzalo Higuain…

“Higuain will not go to Juve,” Napoli President Aurelio De Laurentiis predicted in July. The Argentinian had a €90m release clause in his contract, but surely the Bianconeri wouldn’t dare activate it?

On July 26 it was official. Higuain made the move to Turin, becoming Serie A’s most expensive player ever. For Napoli fans, this was the ultimate betrayal - not just leaving, but for THEM? The rich Northerners opened their chequebook and took the San Paolo’s crown jewel - could there have been a slap in the face more emblematic of this complicated rivalry?

Higuain shirts were burned in the street, and even ‘Gomorrah’ scribe Roberto Saviano would feel more confident of walking the streets of Naples than Pipita these days.

“Juve have Maserati, Fiat, Ferrari and a century of history behind them,” De Laurentiis said recently, the film producer immediately seizing the narrative. “We don’t have the history of Juventus, but the image of Napoli is strong because Neapolitans are the true protagonists in Italy.”

This distinction is felt so keenly that rules introduced to fight racist chanting were extended to include ‘territorial discrimination’ – namely insults aimed at Southern Italians. Juventus paid many fines and had a partial stadium ban because of the repeated chant: ‘Vesuvius wash them with lava.’

There won’t be any of them in Turin on Saturday night, but as the two best sides in Italy face off, make no mistake: this is now the most bitter rivalry in Serie A.

Watch Serie A live in the UK on Premier Sports and get your first month free. £5.99 thereafter until September with promo code: ITALIA

Have your say...
Juventus by this time last year did worse than Napoli this year, yet they were never criticised with such a negative manner.
Juventus is the most hated club by tifosi because it is favoured by the establishment, Napoli is the most hated club by the establishment, for sectarian reasons, not racism, the majority of the fervent, and zealous Juventus supporters are descendents of Southerners (terroni).
Gaby Mackay forgot, to say that Napoli went down to Serie C1 for a fraction of what Juventus is guilty of, and nothing to do with football, whilst Juventus was corruption on all fronts, and got away with everything as usual.
on the 28th October, 2016 at 11:19pm
"Although Juve play in Turin, La Vecchia Signora is a southern Italian team. In Turin itself, most Juve fans are southerners - or of Southern descent - who have come to work in the factories of the rich North, while indigenous 'Torinesi' tend to be 'Granata' - supporters of the often overshadowed Torino."

The North V South angle is useful for this article but just not true. Coming from Southern background, and from Campania, I see more of an allegiance to Juve. The most loved and hated
on the 28th October, 2016 at 2:31am
Seems to me that certain Juve fans are incapable partaking in a bit of banter. Oh and btw, you went down not only for what you were proven to have done in court. You went down for what everyone knew you were doing for decades.
Wonder why so many refs had fiat dealerships over the years.
on the 27th October, 2016 at 10:48pm
"It was just so…Juventus."

"Italy’s most-hated club."

Do you need to have bitter Juve haters writing these blogs?
on the 27th October, 2016 at 9:18pm
Big game, but bigger for Napoli. Lose this and it's a fight for 2nd. Win, and the dream of staying with Juve for a while is on again.

I'd take a draw, but I have a feeling that with everything stacked against Napoli winning, they just might with a Mertens special!
on the 27th October, 2016 at 6:33pm
Well this site is little more than Juventus English, what with using Tuttosport as a source while rejecting far more reliable information. It is no surprise the writers and the comments are nothing but disrespectful to the rest of the league. Rube and its fans can never change.
on the 27th October, 2016 at 5:58pm
Juve is much stronger,even with bench players can win against any setia a team
on the 27th October, 2016 at 5:03pm
but for me and any juventino I know, till you fight us for a scudetto for decades and till you go out of your way to demote us when in actual fact you were the biggest culprits all along there will never be a team we hate more than inter. There are things I would like to happen to that team and organisation which are best left to the imagination.
on the 27th October, 2016 at 3:09pm
@Critter - not winning every time we play them doesn't mean we don't hate Inter with every fibre of our being. Also as a life long Juve fan with tones of juve fan friends we hardly think of Napoli, and in some sense maybe even respect the actual team, they have cool players and have played nice football over the past 4 years, the fans and especially the owner not so much. No offense but they're the stereo typical dumb aggressive southerner who talk way before they think.
on the 27th October, 2016 at 3:07pm
These are always such important matches from a physiological point of view. Last season, after Napoli undeservedly lost 1-0 in the last minute of that match, it took the wind out of their sails and allowed Juve the edge. Here's hoping justice gets served correctly and Napoli pass Juve off the park again and win. FORZA NAPOLI SEMPRE
on the 27th October, 2016 at 2:50pm
@Critter Actually Luciano Moggi is right :) there is not enough reasons for Juventus to hate Napoli while Napoli has more than enough reasons. on the other hand .. Juventus-Inter there is hatred ... Inter used cheating and fabricating evidence while hiding other incriminating them to try and get rid of the most powerful football team in Italy ... and 10 years later Juventus has won more trophies than they did since Calciopoli actually after reading what i wrote, i feel sorry for them

[You're not allowed to swear in Italian either - FI]
on the 27th October, 2016 at 2:29pm
As a Juventino, I respect Napoli. Even like them a little bit, specially when they play in Europe. Then you add Maradona to the equation.
It also helps that my Mom is a Napoli fan.

So it's hard for me to feel a bitter rivalry towards them. But I will say that ADL's constant bitching and childish remarks makes me wanna watch them lose game after game. He is the only thing I hate about Napoli and I hope he leaves them soon.

Here's hoping for a beautiful game.
on the 27th October, 2016 at 1:10pm
@Luciano Moggi, that must be why Juve came up with such a stellar performance against Inter!
on the 27th October, 2016 at 12:48pm
Maybe for Napoli this is the most hated rivalry. This however doesn't even come close to our hatred for Inter. I don't know what you're talking about dude.
on the 27th October, 2016 at 11:50am

Post new comment

Your email address is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
If you have your own website, enter its address here.
Maximum 500 characters.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.
Your responses will be moderated, and sometimes edited, by Football Italia before appearing on the site. Your data may be made public and you accept our Privacy Policy. Please keep your comments clean and try to keep them relevant to the blog above. We reserve the right to reject views that we deem unsuitable for publication.