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The Napoli Ultras: a guide to a notorious fanbase

The fans of Napoli are unmistakable for their football passion, and emotional connection to legendary players. Diego Maradona’s giant mural, located in Naples’ Quarteri Spagnoli, is symbolic of the importance of football to the city’s identity. Football is like a religion to the Napoletani, as shown by the fact that other murals depict Maradona as the city’s patron saint, San Gennaro.

Napoli fans honour Maradona
There are many murals of Diego Maradona across the city of Naples – Photo by Icon Sport

The most vocal Napoli supporters inside the stadium can be seen in Curva A (located in the north stand) and Curva B (the south stand). The history of the various Ultras groups located in the two Curvas is complicated and needs some explaining to do it justice.

The Origins of the Napoli Ultras – Commandos Ultras Curva B (CUCB)

Commandos Ultras Curva B (CUCB) established themselves as the prominent Napoli Ultras group after being founded in 1972 by Gennaro “Palummella” Montourri. The group were responsible for creating the first matchday tifos inside the Napoli stadium and producing their own newspaper called “Ultrazzurro,” as well as a television programme named “Un’ora in Curva B.”

In the 1980s, the CUCB revealed a banner that said: “Violence divides us, our passion unites us.” As a result of this, the Curva B has picked up a reputation for being less violent than the groups located in the Curva A.

The CUCB brought some of the key organisational aspects of Ultras groups that still exist today. New groups were formed in the 1980s on the back of CUCB’s success, including the women’s Ultras groups such as Ultra Girls and Ladies Napoli.

However, in 2002, the CUCB disbanded after the retirement of Palummella.

Fedayn and Ultras Napoli – Curva B

After the CUCB disbanded, Fedayn and Ultras Napoli became the main groups of the Curva B. These two groups have had an indifferent relationship with each other ever since, often refusing to chant together.

Fedayn, whose slogan is “Estranei alla Massa” (Outside the Norm), were offered to become a part of Curva A due to their eccentricity, but they have remained in Curva B.

The history of Curva A

Stereotypically, Curva A is seen as more violent compared to Curva B. However, the Curva A sector of the Napoli Ultras has had an equally tumultuous leadership history.

In 1981, the Blue Lions were formed, which quickly led to the creation of groups such as the Mastiffs, a merger group located in Curva A with the Teste Matte and Carolina Brigade.

However, in 1992, the Vecchi Lions were founded after disputes between the Blue Lions and other groups in the upper section of Curva A.

Napoli Curva A supporters at Hellas Verona
Members of the Curva A show their support during an away league match against Hellas Verona- Photo by Icon Sport

Nowadays, the Carolina Brigade, Mastiffs, and Vecchi Lions are still the main factions of Curva A in the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium, alongside newer groups such as the Spirito Libero.

Regional discrimination aimed at Napoli fans

The Napoli Ultras describe themselves as apolitical, however, in the past, they have responded to the regional abuse aimed in their direction. Most commonly, Napoli fans are subject to chants describing them as a city of people carrying cholera.

In response to these sinister taunts aimed at southern-based Italian teams like Napoli, the Italian authorities put a stadium ban on supporters of northern-based teams, including AC Milan, due to regional discrimination in the 2013/14 Serie A campaign.

The Napoli Ultras in Curva B responded ironically to these stadium bans with a banner in the same season that said: “We are Naples’ cholera-sufferers. Now close our curva!”

Violence

Instances of violence have damaged the reputation of the Napoli Ultras in the past. An example of this was on May 3, 2014. Before the Coppa Italia final against Fiorentina, there was significant violence, resulting in kick-off delays. The violence led to three Napoli fans being hospitalised, including Ciro Espositio, who died of gunshot wounds after a few weeks in intensive care.

It was later discovered that the Napoli Ultras had been fighting with Roma fans, whose team was not even in the final. A Roma ultra, Daniele De Santis, was charged with being responsible for the death of Esposito.

Five Napoli fans were arrested in September 2014 due to their role in the violence. This included the infamous Napoli ultra, Gennaro De Tommaso, who was pictured by the police leading over 100 Napoli fans into the area where the fatal incident occurred.

A notorious fan base

The relationship between the Napoli Ultras and players was once described by Yaya Toure as “like the one between a mother and a son!”. Napoli Ultras are certainly unique and one of the most notorious fan bases in the world, taking their passion for their team from the Curvas into the streets.

 


Will Murray

Freelance football journalist. Experience writing for When Saturday, Comes, Goalkeeper.com, Elite Scholars and Total Football Analysis. Recently finished an MA in Sport Journalism at the University of Brighton. Long-time season ticket holder at the two-time European Champions Nottingham Forest.

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